Holiday Blues


Family photo after Thanksgiving dinner

Holiday Blues

            The older I get the harder the holidays. When I was a kid, holidays were nothing but joys. I had a loving family. Thanksgiving was the biggest family holiday. My mother spent so much time and love making the perfect dinner. My maternal grandparents always came. My grandfather brought us chocolate turkey lollipops, kosher of course. My mother always had chocolate turkeys by each place setting. (My sweet tooth can be traced back many generations.) My mother always made matzo meal stuffing. The first Thanksgiving I spent away from home, my sophomore year of college, I was shocked to taste bread stuffing. It was delicious, but not “real” stuffing.

            During both of my marriages, I continued the tradition of Thanksgiving being a big deal. The women would make the feast and the men would clean up. When we had a cabin south of Prescott, my friends Carol and Terry would spend Thanksgiving with us. Carol was a gourmet cook. She did most of the dinner. I did the pies and the creamed pearl onions.

            For the past few years I’ve been a Thanksgiving vagabond. My older sons have five families (due to divorces) to see for each holiday. I absolved them from being at my table. I spent one disastrous Thanksgiving with a boyfriend a few years ago. It was just the two of us, not my idea at all of how to spend the holiday. He was a Spartan fellow who touted his healthy lifestyle. He defrosted some fish fillets and cooked them with no fanfare. The years I’ve visited my friend in California were much better. Susan does Thanksgiving up right. Turkey and the table filled with family.

            This year I was invited to my middle son’s home to celebrate. I baked the zucchini bread and whipped the cream. I used my mother’s measuring cups and thought about how much I still miss her. She’s been dead for three years. And it was Carol’s job to whip the cream, so I thought about her and how much I miss her, too. I was cranky and my youngest son and I argued about money.

            The day was a success, however. When we got to Eric’s and Amy’s home, it was chocked full of warm and friendly people. I took my granddaughter upstairs and entertained her while the finishing touches were put on the dinner. I got to eat at a table with all three of my sons. And they did the cleanup, unknowingly carrying on the tradition. Or perhaps they remembered from their childhoods.

           I think the holidays are harder to bear as we age. They’re bittersweet because we have good memories of the past but the people who were part of those times are no longer alive.

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