This week, on Thursday, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, each in their own way, across the entire country. It is almost universally celebrated as a time for family to get together from near and far, to touch base, renew, catch up, and celebrate the bonds that tie us to the ones who mean the most.
In some cases the family is made up not of blood relatives, but of best friends or neighbors who have come to be family. For others it may be a day of giving to others by volunteering at a food pantry, a soup kitchen, or homeless shelter to bring a glimmer of that special warmth that only occurs when people bond, even if only a bond of circumstances.
My celebration has changed several times over the years. Growing up the day was celebrated with just my parents and me, eating at the stroke of noon, with turkey, dressing, and much of the bounty that came from my dad’s garden: squash, butter beans, potatoes, and collards. The day was extra special because it was the one day out of all the days of the year that you could count on all three of us sitting down to eat together.
In all the years until my mom died, I only missed one Thanksgiving, while I was away at college. To me that will always be the year without a Thanksgiving. Because even though I had a big dinner with my college friends and then another one with my boyfriend’s family, it lacked the traditions I had come to expect, and needed to make the day special.
For a while after my dad died, my family went out of town to have Thanksgiving with a friend, and now we travel back to our hometown and my dad’s family has a huge dinner with all family members coming from as far away as Michigan and Florida to gather together and celebrate family. And I always bring my dad’s collards, not fresh from the garden (alas), but done to perfection. I think he’d be proud.
To everyone traveling home for the holiday, I wish you safe journeys, fabulous food, and warm hugs from those you hold dearest.