I don't know why, but today I was thinking about Thanksgiving.
For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has always been my mom's favorite holiday. Until my dad passed away, I never understood why. To me, it had always been just one more holiday to check off before Christmas.
Thanksgiving always is a whole lot of work. My mom always makes the same dishes- regardless of whether or not anyone eats them. "It is tradition" she would say when one of us would start complaining about having to hand stuff olives with blue cheese ( I still gag at the thought of the smell).
She starts preparing dishes as early as Monday before Thanksgiving. Usually, she begins by making the one dish that is arguably everyone's favorite-the homemade tortellini. Although we all love to eat them, making them is very labor intensive and something that nobody likes to have to help make. I'm getting ahead of myself though--because, before you can start preparing the dishes, you must make many trips to the store- yes, I said trips. My mom will have to make numerous trips to the grocery store during the time of year they are the most busy because she always forgets key ingredients for her must-make dishes. As a child, this was excruciating and, despite all of us kids trying to make sure we had everything on one trip- we always had to go back. Eventually my mom confessed that she loves the craziness of the store at the holidays. Something about all of the commotion makes it feel like the holidays to her.
I asked my mom once why she always makes the same dishes at Thanksgiving. She told me it was because growing up, her mom always made them. The stuffed olives had been one of my grandma's favorite dishes. The tortellini my mom made with her grandmother. The fried cauliflower and the salt pork on the turkey were some of my dads favorites. Making the dishes is labor intensive, but the sense of family each dish brings to the table is amazing. Now at Thanksgiving, I see all of my children, my brothers and sister and their families--all of my loved ones and it is family. The one time of year we are all there to celebrate each other and those that have gone before us. My kids cringe now that they get to make the olives- but, I tell them about my grandma and how she loved them- and I can't help but love that a memory of her is being told to the next generation. I hope my kids will one day see that a whole lot of work for a traditional meal is worth it. Maybe when they are older, Thanksgiving will become one of their favorite holidays like my mom.