It’s the night before Thanksgiving in the United States. I’ve been prepping and cooking and baking….and I still have some cooking to do. Around 2:30am, I need to prepare the turkey and put it in the oven. I’ll wake up to the smell of a roasting turkey. Yum.
Before I head off to church, I’ll put the meat stuffing in the oven to cook. That should be done shortly after I return from church. I’ll then load everything up in my trusty SUV and head to my aunt’s house. We’ll eat around 1pm.
This year, I’m making the turkey and stuffing. I’ve already made a pound cake and two eggnog pies. It’s the first time for the pies. Not just the first time for eggnog pies. It’s the first time I’ve EVER made pie. I hope it’s good.
But as I sit here looking at my clean kitchen and contemplate going to bed to get a few hours of sleep before dealing with the turkey, I reflect.
We so often get wrapped up in the “doing” of the holiday that we forget about the holiday itself. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks.For me, the cooking and baking is part of how I show my thanks to my family. This is my third Thanksgiving without my mom. No, it doesn’t get easier. More manageable, yes. Easier, no. While I have siblings, I’ve always been considered an only child. The two oldest siblings don’t acknowledge me and I didn’t grow up with the brother that does acknowledge me. And, technically, I am my mother’s only child. So, in some ways, it’s just me now.
But, my aunt and all of my cousins have stood by me my entire life. Steadfast in their love. I know that I can turn to any of them if I’m in need. And I have. And they have always come to my rescue. Yes, I’m very thankful for them. So, I cook and I bake. It brings them a little bit of my grandmother when they taste the stuffing or the pound cake – both made from her recipes. No, mine aren’t as good as hers. But they’re close. I know my family appreciates those culinary reminders.
There’s so much more I’m thankful for. I could probably write a novel-length blog post just describing all I have to be thankful for in my life. (In which case, I could also complete NaNoWriMo…in a day!) Instead, let me just mention a few.
- My health. Okay, I’m not the picture-perfect representation of a healthy person. I need to lose weight. I need to work on my blood pressure. Yes, I know. But, overall, my health isn’t horrible. After about 6 months of walking with a cane because of my herniated disks, I’m almost back to normal. I don’t need the cane anymore. Getting out of bed and stretching out takes a bit longer in the morning. But, I can walk without assistance, I can go to the grocery store without someone there to help me. I can lift things again. I’m back to being fully independent. It took resigning from my job to make this happen, but sometimes that happens.
- My house. Well, my grandmother’s house. (It will always be her house.) I have a solid roof over my head. I have A/C in the hot summer and heat in the cold winter.
- My cats. I miss Joxer. I got him when he was about a month old. He turned 14 this summer. So he was a companion for nearly 1/3 of my life. Yes. I miss him. But I have Mario and Midi to help fill that void. Sure, they drive me nuts sometimes with their “fighting” and running around the house like they’re on crack. However, they also cuddle with me when I sit in the recliner and watch TV. They sleep with me when I go to bed. They miss me when I’m not here and greet me at the door when I return. They love me unconditionally.
- My friends. I have many friends…and, yet, I have very few friends. I have some close friends in the Chicago area. We rarely get to see each other because their schedules are so busy. (Mine, too, when I was working.) The majority of my friends live all over the world. While most are in the U.S., I’m fortunate to know people in Europe, Asia, Australia, South America…If I ever get to travel out of the U.S., I have a lot of people to visit. The same goes for my friends in the U.S. I think I know people in nearly every state. Some are from high school, some from college, some from grad school, some from my teaching stints, some from my former place of employment…most are people I met through GCLS (Golden Crown Literary Society). These are people from all walks of life. It’s such a diverse group – politically, culturally, theologically, academically – and I’m so privileged to know all of them. They fill my soul.
Yes. As I sit and reflect, I realize that I do have so much to be thankful for. I don’t only realize this once a year…during the appropriate holiday. I’m aware of this 365 days a year. I guess I should be better about verbalizing my thanks more often.