November 23, 2021

My Thanksgiving Celebrations have Changed, but One Thing did Not.


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My memories of Thanksgiving are distant and murky at best; however, the main course on the last one is memorable.

As a child, we shared the day with my maternal grandparents, going to their tiny row house in the city or, occasionally, to a restaurant. There were two German ones that I recall eating at a few times. My dad got wiener schnitzel. We are not German, but there were no Finnish restaurants.

The places where we spent this day would change, and we would sometimes move to my sister’s home in the early 90s. There were large celebrations. I would be in charge of bringing the salad, dressings, and rolls.

Since I gave up meat and turkey in my late teens, I would initially eat the mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, and veggies in my youth and until my mid-30s.

That would change in the 90s when mashed potatoes added loads of garlic—sorry, garlic is a huge no for my delicate gut. And the sauerkraut got some kind of critter added. I think it was a shellfish.

I had dropped that from my list of critters in the beginning of 1990. The stuffing had pork or some kind of non-vegan item, and the gravy was from the roasted turkey.

No worries, everyone else enjoyed and ate everything on the table.

So, my plate? A huge salad, light dressing, and a plain roll. Don’t be sorry; I was more than happy and satisfied. And no one asked me where I got my protein. Honestly, everyone was having a good time and did not notice the food I was consuming.

Shared meals can be a time for gathering and sharing, and we did just that.

I love doing dishes, and my heart was in a Zen peaceful state as I washed.

The last gathering was in 2005. Thanksgivings became just another day for Hank and me. Nothing to do but enjoy a day off work, take a walk, and settle in to relax.

Hank and I moved to Florida in April, 2007. He died in mid-July, 2009.

Not the story I intend to share, but the main course in my Thanksgiving that year is why I share the following.

My friend Penny flew into town to share a long weekend with my cat Ofelia and our newly adopted six-year-old tuxedo, Hamlet.

He joined us the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and I know he was grateful for not sitting in a glass cage at the pet store.

Hmm. Maybe they foster them out for holidays. I must check.

Although I have forgotten all the side dishes, I have delightful flashbacks to the not-a-turkey-no-critters-harmed main course.

Penny cooked an assembled eggplant to look like an adorable purple turkey, complete with wooden toothpick legs. We laughed and most likely consumed too much wine. Maybe that was just me. Possibly.

The food may be the main event for some, but friendship, laughter, and connections bring the gratitude of love.

I will always hold that memory in my heart. Along with others too.

In addition, much gratitude to my friend Laura who teaches a 90-minute Yin Yoga class on Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings. The small, no-mirrored studio would usually be packed with folks mat-to-mat, as a serene peace covered each of us.

And her yummy vegan cookies to enjoy as we collected our shoes were the extra plus. In the couple of years—or maybe three—when I went, I would do a slight detour to the beach to walk with the seagulls, collect flat stones, and write in my journal.

This Thanksgiving will be my fourth official Turkey Trot 5K. It would be my fifth if counting the one in 2017 that was an impromptu social media callout to see if folks wanted to meet at the lake and walk.

Wherever and however you spend your day, enjoy it.

And give gratitude. Loads of it.


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