10 days ago, on November 14, was the 10th anniversary of my mom’s death. The day came and went without much fanfare, as it seems as though it should have. It’s not like it’s something to really celebrate. I was just glad once the milestone had finally passed.
Yesterday, for the fourth year in a row, I hosted my family at our Omaha home for Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. It might be because of my unhealthy love of food. But mostly I love Thanksgiving because there’s not too much hullabaloo around it. You don’t have to worry about buying a bunch of gifts or going to any big events. You can simply get together with people you love, eat comfort food, and then sprawl out on the living room floor, laughing and talking. It’s the perfect day to me.
A knack for cooking was one of the things I inherited from my mom. She was a fantastic cook, taking after her own mom, but it wasn’t until high school that I actually started to get into the kitchen with her. She had bought us all these little red recipe binders (bought from that catalog LTD Commodities, no doubt) so we could start to accumulate some of our family favorites. I grew up in the Upper Midwest, so there were plenty of bar and hot dish recipes I needed to take note of. I remember sitting at the counter one evening, making a list of all the recipes I needed to get from Mom. Some she’d pass recipe cards over to me for; some she knew by heart and would list off ingredients (I’d have to make up the amounts later, as they weren’t always exact). My mom had a very simple Midwestern “meat and potatoes” style of cooking, so the recipes were never too complicated.
It was only about 6 months or so after I put that cookbook together that my mom was suddenly killed in a car accident. I would have never known how important that little binder would become to me as I’d grow into an adult, experimenting more in the kitchen but still yearning for some of those favorites from home. Over the years my siblings would continue to ask me for the recipes too, knowing I’d been so lucky to take so many of them down.
Yesterday I was back in the kitchen and feeling proud of the feast we’d put together, but wishing our parents could be here to see us now. Every Thanksgiving I still cook from my mom’s traditional menu; it’s seems like blasphemy to change anything. Roast turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole…all the Midwestern classics. Though we never ate cranberry sauce growing up, I’ve added a cranberry chutney for our own modern twist. 😉
Though our parents are no longer with us, I am thankful that my 3 siblings and I are able to come together every Thanksgiving to celebrate. Because each year as fall looms and November 14 approaches, life starts to feel tough. But once that day has passed and we have absorbed the pain, we are free to move into the holiday season together. There is joy and happiness again, and we can continue on our family’s traditions. We have our parents to thank for that, and I’ll always be grateful.