Thanksgiving was always the one holiday of the year when my husband, our two children and I all traveled to Pittsburgh, where I grew up. It was something we thought of as my mom’s holiday–the one time every year when she knew she’d have us and my brother’s family all at her dining room table.
We lost my mom in March, 2014. She was the very best person I’ve ever known and the loss was devastating for me. As she struggled through about ten years of a debilitating illness, my daughter and I would travel to Pittsburgh and help her to make Thanksgiving dinner. I learned how to make that meal in exactly the same way that my mom, and my grandma and my great grandmother made it.
For the last two Thanksgivings, we’ve struggled to find our way as a family. The Thanksgiving after my mom passed, my dear friend Rachel had us over for dinner with her family. It was generous of her and delicious and just weird. This was her family, not mine! And while the meal was definitely better than any my mom and I had made (let’s face it, my mom and I were never good cooks and the turkey was lousy most years), it didn’t taste like ours.
Then last year we traveled back to Pittsburgh where we met my dad and my brother and his wife for a Thanksgiving dinner at the local Italian restaurant. Good gracious that was awful!
This year brings a new tradition and I think we’ll finally get it right. We’re having dinner tomorrow at my in-laws. It’ll just be the four of us because our son lives in Florida and our daughter will be at her in-laws. But on Saturday, my beautiful daughter Bryna–who’s as much like my mother as a person can be–will come over and help me prepare Thanksgiving dinner in exactly the same way the three women before us did it.
I think that’s what traditions and family holidays must be about, right? Remembering all of the people we’ve loved and who have loved us while treasuring the family we have at the table.
The turkey may suck, but it’ll be a great reminder of all of the Thanksgivings before this one. I can imagine my mum shrugging her shoulders and saying, “I never really liked turkey anyway Kimberly.”
I sincerely hope that the next four days bring everyone lots of time with those you love the most. Happy Thanksgiving!