Every holiday I’ve celebrated since my mother passed away feels like I get more and more away from that life I used to live. Into this new version, where I am the mom, the one who takes care of it all. It’s a role I love even though I miss the old days.
My first Thanksgiving with my new family, I got up early like my grandmother used to do. I prepped the bird, preheated the oven, diced veggies for later and pulled the pies out to defrost. I missed the simplicity of my youth when I would just wake up to the smell of a turkey cooking in the oven as if it happened by magic. I never thought about the woman who got up with the sun like I did to pull it all together.
Thanksgiving breakfast is another tradition I continued. It wasn’t enough for my Grandmother to get up and make enough food to feed the US Army, she had to make a hearty breakfast too. The point was to get us full enough so we could wait until 2pm for dinner. I got up and did the same thing. Made a big breakfast, watched the Hubby clean up and then set to work.
It’s a chore, it really is. I never realized how much work and planning it takes to pull off a big meal like that. I had little ones running around and coming in and out of the kitchen distracting me because they wanted to know where Mommy was. It was understandable, I did sequester myself in the kitchen, locked in by a baby gate. The twins stood at the gate crying, throwing toys at me to get me to engage. I was busy cooking their dinner but they didn’t understand. To them it was just another day. Every time I had to stop and console someone I would wander back to the kitchen and wonder, did I put salt in this?
After two hours of chopping, stirring and mixing, I was beat. Most of the day Quinn just stood at the gate and cried because he was not accustomed to being without his Mommu (that’s what he calls me) for that long. So I cooked with him on my hip or in the kitchen on the floor playing trying not to step or spill anything on him. By the time I got dinner on the table that year, I was too tired to even eat. The thought of washing all the plates, glasses, dessert trays, pots and pans loomed in my head. I was dead woman walking and I needed help. This was not how I remembered Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was supposed to be about family and sitting around the table playing board games and telling stories while everyone stuffed themselves. This wasn’t fun at all, this was work.
That evening, after the kids settled into a movie, I remarked to the Hubby that there has to be a better way than this because for me it was the worst Thanksgiving ever. I spent no time with the family at all. I was a slave to the kitchen. This year, I vowed it would be different. I’m going to prep everything I can in advance. The kids are also older now and I can bring them in the kitchen with me to help and I plan on asking for a lot of it. I’m also going to make less side dishes and spend more time enjoying the holiday. Looking back on my childhood, it was never the food I remembered, it was the time I got to spend with family and isn’t that what the day is really all about?