Tomorrow will be the first Thanksgiving I spend without Gene and without a loving family around my table. As a poor substitute, I am baking biscotti today (recipe link, I substitute walnuts for pistachios), in the hopes that the scent of these yummy breakfast morsels baking in my kitchen will fill my heart with warm memories of Thanksgiving turkey dinner and all the trimmings that we enjoyed with our cousins and moms, year after year. Gene and I both lost our dads in the late ’80s, so you won’t see them in most of our photos. But for many years, we hosted Thanksgiving for our cousins, who in turn hosted Christmas, and our moms joined us until they passed away. It was tough watching the Thanksgiving crowd dwindle over the years.
I can tell so many funny stories of turkeys that took forever to cook, and perogies that exploded on the stove top (I forgot I had them in a glass casserole and the burner was ON! Duh!). When Jake was a puppy, Gene walked him for hours in the rain to try to tire him out before dinner so he wouldn’t make mischief. (No matter how many times we were told that you can’t tire out a young Brittany hunting dog, we still tried). And no matter how much I screwed up the turkey, everyone always LOVED my sausage and onion stuffing! And the pies were always delicious too, whether I baked or bought them.
No matter what the menu, it was assured there would be TOO MUCH FOOD, and everyone would enjoy taking some home for next-day leftovers.
So tomorrow, instead of whining about what I don’t have this year, I will give thanks to God for all the years of Thanksgiving blessings that I did have and that Gene and I were blessed to have together. And tomorrow, I will celebrate with a new friend I met here in Florida. Her name is Carole and we met at the dog park. Our pups get along great together, Megan and Jake. Carole and I will celebrate the holiday aboard the Marina Jack II, a sightseeing vessel that motors around Sarasota Bay while serving up a gourmet feast. No cooking, no clean up, and no crying, please. There will be entertainment and the weather promises to be sunny and warm. How lucky am I?
I’m not really kidding myself or anyone else though. No amount of counting my blessings can erase or lessen the amount of grief and sadness that finds its way into my heart and ambushes me at inopportune times during the day, mostly early morning and night. But I pray, as I do every day, that the joy I find in my new life by extending myself to others and doing things to contribute in some way to my new community, will make it possible for me to get to the next hour, the next day, the next holiday and even the new year.
I wish you all the blessings of fond memories, funny stories, and precious moments. Happy Thanksgiving!
Julianne and Jake