I like Thanksgiving almost as much as Easter. It combines gratitude with amazing food and those are two of my favorite things. And Thanksgiving at our family farm has long held a special place in my heart.
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving most years centered on my Mom’s family. My grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my favorite cousins would come for the feast. Mom would dig out the one ashtray we owned along with the jar of instant coffee (both for my grandparents), then she’d COOK.
For days it seemed.
We’d watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade until the cousins came. After that, the only thing that could pull us back to the TV was Santa Claus bringing up the rear. We kids had our own table and although I can’t remember what we talked about, I know we laughed as hard as we ever would.
Then my parents divorced and Mom moved to another house and I knew there’d never be another Thanksgiving like that.
Eventually, I got to be a pretty good cook and in high school I was the one in charge of the kitchen. Dad’s side of the family would come to the farm and they’d be so proud of me for making dinner (with some help!) and it was wonderful.
Then I went away to college in South Carolina and I knew there’d never be another Thanksgiving like that.
Eventually, my Dad remarried and it worked out one year for me to go back to the farm for Thanksgiving. Dad’s wife saw a blog post I wrote about all my favorite Thanksgiving foods and by golly, she recreated one of those amazing, childhood feasts, and we were all together at the farm and it was wonderful.
Then my Dad got sick and had to leave the farm for an assisted living facility and I knew there’d never be another Thanksgiving like that.
But I think I’ve finally learned something over the course of my 40-some Thanksgivings. As important as the food and the place and the setting seem to be . . . they’re not. It’s the thanks part that matters. And even if I never eat another dinner at the farm where I ate my first, I’m thankful–grateful even–for the foundation of love my family laid in my heart.
There will always be Thanksgivings like that.