The more things change…

Here we are, with Thanksgiving right around the corner! I love this time of year. I love the cooking and the smells, the fabulous special foods, and the time with family and friends. I love that Christmas is coming. I love the excitement on the faces of our grandchildren.  I even love our dogs’ amped-up excitement.

For as long as I can remember, or for as long as I’ve been a mom anyway, I’ve pictured quaint Norman Rockwell scenes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I made every dish from scratch. I  dreamt of smiling, happy faces gathered around the heavy-laden dining room table. I imagined the soft glow of candlelight illuminating all the faces we love, and those who love us. I pictured sleepy, content dogs snoozing by the fireplace as we laugh and reminisce about years gone by. Yes, I even imagined all four of our children willingly and cheerfully helping clear the table and cleaning the kitchen after the glorious meal, all the while thanking us and marveling at the notion that this year’s meal topped all those that came before.

Needless to say, these imaginings were just that. Imaginings. The dreams of a mom who always wanted everything to be perfect for her family. Of course, not every face at the table during any given year was smiling. Remember, four children go through four angst-ridden teen years. And also keep in mind that dogs (ours, anyway) are never asleep (by the fire or anywhere else) when everyone’s home. Instead of soundly snoozing, they’re out of their minds with delight and excitement.

It took me many years, about 20 I think, to stop trying to make everything perfect for everyone during the holidays. It’s an unrealistic goal, because it’s an impossible goal. It took me about 20 years to get that all I can do is the best I can do, in any given situation, holidays included. In truth, I wish I had all those years back. I wish I could do them all over again, this time with a more relaxed and laidback attitude. Maybe the children wouldn’t remember things differently, but I surely would. 

Now that we’re empty-nesters and I am firmly ensconced in my 60s, my notions of “important” and “unimportant” have shifted. It’s not the things and stuff and trappings that everyone will remember. It’s how we felt. It’s the time with family, with those who know us best, that matters. 

This year, I will still cook all the traditional dishes, recipes passed down to me by my mom and my sister and aunts. I suppose tradition will always matter to me in that respect, because preparing those old familiar dishes somehow keeps the people I’ve loved alive. Just smelling that rich melody of herbs and fruits, spices and juices, stirs nostalgia. I love it.

There’s beauty in reaching these valuable realizations, even at my age. Relaxing my expectations of perfection helps me enjoy these beautiful weeks that stretch out before us. It will help me enjoy the people, rather than just the setting and circumstances. And let’s not forget, the big bonus of reaching this stage of life is grandchildren- the ultimate do-over – and the most splendid little people. They just make everything more fun and exciting.

Besides, all they’ll eat is the rolls anyway, right?

Here’s wishing all of you the happiest, most relaxed Thanksgiving you’ve ever enjoyed. Sit back, put your feet up, enjoy a glass of wine, and soak it all in.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *