Thankful for the moments
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I can think of nothing more American than a whole day dedicated to stuffing your face while surrounded by your favorite people. I always appreciated that there was no expectation of gifts, though capitalism has found a way to creep in during the 21st century, as Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year and which was once reserved exclusively for the day after Thanksgiving, has now slid into Thanksgiving itself. In 2020, some retailers started offering Black Friday deals as early as October. In the old days, Thanksgiving was that last reprieve before we threw ourselves into the most consumerist part of the year.
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was an intimate affair, usually involving four to six people. The one time I remember involving more people, my aunt, with a flyswatter, chased my younger cousin across the front yard while they both screamed profanities at each other. That holiday was the only time I could remember a certain great uncle and a certain other cousin visiting. Good times.
My grandmother would always prepare too much food, but no one complained because we knew we would spend the rest of the day munching away on leftovers. My grandmother owned the day with a turkey and a ham and dressing and broccoli and green beans and mashed potatoes and rolls and who knows what else. But my mom owned dessert time with her cherry cream cheese pies. No one made dessert like my mom, which we discovered when my grandmother attempted to move into my mom’s lane and make the same pies, which somehow weren’t the same. Then, as my mom and grandmother exchanged recipes, we realized that my mom had neglected to use vanilla extract on her own pies. A slight oversight had turned into a staple.
After lunch AKA “the first round”, we might put a football game on the TV for some background noise. Or maybe my aunt would insist we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade even though no one else have a damn. At least she wasn’t yet again campaigning that we watch The Last of the Mohicans, of which she had a VHS cassette in her purse, and which I years later watched and could not understand the hype, despite the greatness of Daniel Day-Lewis.
In recent years, Thanksgiving has become bittersweet, as in 2011, the holiday was the last that I would spend with my mom because she passed away the following Monday morning after battling cancer for the last few months. So, of course, I can’t help thinking about her during this time of year.
Perhaps this time of year invokes in you similar thoughts of loved ones you’ve lost. Perhaps you feel down, which is understandable. But I hope that this year, you will instead join me in being thankful for what once was and for the time that you had with someone you now miss so dearly. We are lucky to have had special people in our lives even for the briefest moments, and we need to remind ourselves that no one is guaranteed such a gift in life.
We miss these people because they’re worth missing, and they’re worth missing because of the impact they had while they were in our lives on this earth.
And if we can’t be thankful for that, what can we be thankful for?