Well, it won’t be our usual Thanksgiving this year, that’s for damn sure. We won’t gather in our house, surrounded by 30 or 35 of our favorite relatives and friends. There won’t be a 25 pound turkey with ten different side dishes. I am not anticipating 7 pies and a cake, plus boxes of chocolates, two delicious vegan appetizers and three kinds of bread.
It won’t be a full day of beloved faces moving in and out of our kitchen. We won’t be celebrating for two full days.
Here we are.
It’s Thanksgiving 2020.
The election is (sort of) over. The weather is turning (sort of) colder. And the damned Coronavirus is raging across the globe.
We are all tired. We are sick to death of “social distancing”. We are angry. We are sad. We are lonely.
We want to gather our children, our siblings and parents and friends and uncles and aunts and cousins and everyone. We want to hold them all against our hearts and tell them that we are so very grateful to have them in our lives. We want to feed them. We want to argue over football and politics and favorite pies. We want to laugh at the whipped cream on our nephew’s nose.
But this is 2020.
Instead of cooking for 35 this year, I’ll be celebrating the holiday with my Mom, my younger sister and my mother’s home health aide.
My Mom is 90. She is physically more frail than I ever thought I’d see. She has dementia, and is hanging on desperately to her most beloved memories. Time with her is a sorrow and a joy all rolled into one. Her children feel every moment ticking away. And we feel the pull of her happy past, tugging at our hearts as we think of all of the holidays past.
My sister is my closest woman friend. She is my anchor. My rudder. She keeps me balanced and whole. She makes me laugh out loud. She takes me on vacation, shares her memories with me, pushes me to look outside of my own preconceptions.
And Mom’s health aide, Lynn, is a woman I am so blessed to have met. She is intelligent, kind, thoughtful, confident, fun. My Mother loves and respects her in a way that is a gift to me. This new friend brings a unique perspective to our family. She has only known Mom as the elderly, fragile, but still feisty woman that she is now. She is able to embrace and accept Mom for all of her strengths.
This Thanksgiving will, for me, be more about gratitude than any that has come before it.
I will miss my children this holiday. I will miss my grandchildren. I will miss the crazy cooking frenzy that usually precedes the day and I will surely miss the crowd of well-loved faces around my table.
But I will be so grateful this year. I will be so grateful that my sons will share a meal with each other. That my daughter and her family will celebrate together and will all be healthy. I will be so happy that my husband will be at their table for the holiday.
Mostly, I will be grateful that my family is still safe and healthy. I will be eternally grateful to still have my Mom in my life, and to be able to make her famous stuffing in her kitchen. I’ll be grateful to have my sister at the table, and to be able to put on party hats and sing her “Happy Birthday”.
I’ll be so very grateful to know Lynn, to have her on our team, to know that Mom trusts her and loves her.
Happy, sad, gentle and lonely Thanksgiving to everyone. This is one year in a century. It is one for the history books.
It can be our saddest.
Or it can be out most grateful.
I’m working hard to embrace the latter.