Roasted Turkey. Stuffing. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. Green Bean Casserole. Cranberries. Do these all sound familiar to you?
Thanksgiving – a day steeped in history and tradition. The history has been modified, glamorized, and even forgotten over the past 4 centuries, however much of the tradition has remained, as many families and friends gather together this one day of the year.
Our traditional Thanksgiving is not going to be like many of the past. The usual crowd of up to 40 or so people is down to a small group of 8 – and the turkey has been replaced by a beautiful prime rib – lovingly seasoned and prepared by my husband. The traditional mashed potatoes and green bean casserole have given way to a root vegetable medley and potato recipe passed down from my daughter-in-law’s Grandma Noni.
At first, there was some sadness when one by one our extended family declined the invitation to gather together once again for this holiday. As with any change, a variety of emotions ensued as we contemplated what this day would look like without our big gathering.
This day was originally going to be the time to share the big news that my son and his beautiful bride are bringing a new life into our family. Initially I was saddened that my kids were unable to have the big surprise announcement but the beautiful outcome was that they shared the news publicly earlier than expected. We now have been able to give thanks on a daily basis for the past six weeks and can share our excitement as we see the evidence of this new life through our daughter’s physical body transformation.
As I reflect on the history of Thanksgiving and how the traditional celebration came to be, I can see how the story has changed over the years. The historical account and meaning of this holiday is not necessarily the one that story books are made of. As with any literary classic, new editions are created based on the modifications that have been made. This year is one of many editions for our family and will be gently placed upon our memory bookshelf between two very beautiful bookends – my 94-year-old mother and our beautiful grandchild resting comfortable within its momma’s womb.
If you are surrounded by many on this day of giving thanks, count your blessings as you gaze upon each of those who share their presence with you. If you are surrounded by few, enjoy the time you can spend individually to really see and hear without distractions.
For those of you who look upon an empty chair at your table, close your eyes, take a few deep gentle breaths and allow yourself to feel the presence of your loved one. Whether it is the recipe that they used to prepare with love, the memory of their smile, or the candle flame that glows so beautifully – know that they are with you now and forever.
And for all of us who are filled with great bounty, if you can, share with those who are struggling. It may be giving your time, your talents, your treasures, but most especially share the love from your heart to theirs.
It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving ~ Mother Teresa