this is the last thanksgiving

I remember when Thanksgiving was fun — noisy with relatives who all lived within a block of each other and nosey with relatives who drove in from the next county or the next state. Everyone ate too much, drank too much, and laughed enough to keep us going until Christmas, when we’d do it all over again, except on a larger scale and a different menu.
It was just me and my mother this year. I cooked the traditional fare (including Polish kapusta, which is traditional for my family), but I don’t know why I bothered. While my mom ate up (she’s too frail and forgetful to have helped prepare anything), I was full from all the tasting I did along the way from cutting board to table. After dinner, I went and watched the same tv programs that I usually watch on Thursday nights (at least the ones that were on despite the “holiday”) while my mother napped in her recliner.
My daughter and her family (a couple of hours’ drive away) went out to dinner with her in-law family. She’s still getting her recently purchased home set up, and no one else wanted to cook.
My brother, who’s a vegetarian and lives an hour and a half away, is working on his house, so he didn’t even bother acknowledging the holiday.
Back in my home town, it was my aunt (who’s about in the same shape as my mother), her daughter, and her sister-in-law. They usually have pork, anyway.
Rituals and holidays used to be celebratory. Now so many of them are just a chore. We do what we’ve always done. Except everything else is different. And so we go through the motions. Motions without the satisfying E-motions.
I think that next year, I’m going to tell my brother to take my mother down to my aunts’ for Thanksgiving, and I’m heading out to my daughter’s. By then, her home wil be more than ready for company, and she plans to really get into the process and the product.
I’ll volunteer to make the kapusta. Maybe some butternut squash with apples and brown sugar, too. But that’s it. And I’ll eat too much and drink too much and laugh a lot.
I will bask in the noises of families fraternizing while the turkey bastes and new memories emerge. And, again, I will feel the full flood of thanks.

Leave a Reply