Thanksgiving is a day for counting your blessings and eating too much turkey and dressing. It’s a time of family and fellowship and honoring traditions. And … it’s supposed to be a happy time.
When Thanksgiving rolled around fours years ago, Mama had just died. The following year marked the death of Aunt Mag, an aunt I was particularly close to. Her death meant my matriarchs were gone. Last year, David, my youngest son, was away in Argentina and he will be away this year, as well.
Usually, we have a small holiday–Daddy, Rolando, the boys, and me. Since I’m now the matriarch, the cooking and festivities land on my lap. And frankly, these past four years, I preferred to sit it out. Many of you may know the feeling.
Four years of this has made me an expert in surviving, what I’ve lovingly labeled, a turkey tailspin. In this week’s blog, I thought I’d share three things I’ve learned.
- Be honest with your emotions and share them with your family. Tell them you don’t feel like doing the cooking and you want to eat out. It’s not going to kill anyone if they don’t get a huge home-cooked (by you) meal. This is hard for women because we don’t want to let anyone down. But…be willing to stand up for your own needs a bit and request help with the cooking or go out for seafood.
- Honor the chair of the one missing. During our holiday meals at either my table or Daddy’s, we leave empty the chair of the one missing. It doesn’t feel right for someone else to sit there and this simple gesture acknowledges, in some way, the spirit of the one we long for.
- Recall the good times and tell stories. You may not be ready for it this year but, in time, you will be. Get out the pictures and remember the Thanksgivings where your heart overflowed with abundance. Refill your cup with positive memories and, when you can, be thankful for those times.
This year I’m cooking part of the meal and Daddy’s bringing some prepared foods he orders from a restaurant. We’ve adapted. But, I’ll still choke back tears as I chop the pecans for the sweet potato casserole. When I take a peek at the cornbread dressing, I’ll think I hear Mama say, “You may want to put a bit more broth on that, dear. It looks a bit dry.” And, I’ll already know no amount of ambrosia or pecan pie will satiate my feelings of sadness.
I know this because I’ve spent the past four years surviving these turkey tailspins. It isn’t training I wanted; but, it’s the path God has me on during this season of my life.
The song, It Is Well, is speaking to me this week and I hope it speaks to you as you face the coming days.
I’ll be praying for you as you do your best to be the strong one–the one tasked with keeping up the traditions–the matriarch.
P.S. I know you think you have the best-ever pecan recipe, but you don’t. Mama’s was the best!