My kids say that I prep for holidays in a similar fashion as my husband does for competitive races. List making starts a few weeks prior to the event, and everything begins and ends with a sprint.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days. Growing up we always had a dinner celebration that was filled with family and the same is true today. And with both parents growing up in the same small town, there was never a shortage of relatives around. The dining table expanded with just a "leaf" and the Saturday night card table, transformed into a "kids table" by simply laying a tablecloth over it.
For the last 20 years I've hosted Thanksgiving and I love it. I love everything about it, the lists, prep and cooking are just to name a few, but mostly the company. Some of the seats have been replaced by younger generations but the atmosphere is still the same; blessed. I am fortunate to be in a family where we all genuinely enjoy spending time together. The love, laughter and gratitude shared fills me up.
One of the things I look forward to is the traditions that this day brings. The 5:30 a.m. alarm going off to put the turkey in, only to slip back into bed is always worth it when I officially get up 2 hours later to the aroma of fresh rosemary. My second order of business involves sending a text to people that I love and won't be seeing on this special day. And after pausing to refresh my game plan for the morning, I peer out the window into our woods, to a small shed high in the trees, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of activity from my husband or son on their pre-thanksgiving dinner hunt.
Checking my list regularly helps me stay on task and keeps things flowing in a timely manner. I've been known to forget to put food in the oven or clean a doggie pawed window if it's not written down!
And due to my overstimulated brain and sometimes control freak tendencies, my job lists carry over to my children and leaves them less than enthused until the Macy's Day Parade and holiday music serve as buffers. The Rockettes "line kick" and any float from the "peanuts gang" warrants a desired break and reminder to celebrate the small joys of the day.
Another highlight to the day is catching up with my cousins. The anticipation of seeing them and listening to their latest travels is something my entire family looks forward to. Their adventures are something I dream of doing one day, but now hearing their stories and being part of their audience, is just as gratifying. When they arrive there is an immediate feeling of nostalgia, like they never left. Both my brother and I cherish the time with them and soak in every moment we can all be together. Our connection to each other is from the heart and extends well past an occasional visit.
My brother and his family are an expected gift that I know never to take advantage of. Having him around year after year for Thanksgiving helps both of us not miss our sister who lives down south and our brother, up above. Our children combined, get along like siblings, similar to how we are with our cousins, and makes for an extra special day. The laughter my brother produces is something I hold dear. And although my sister-in-law will bring many delicious sides, her breads are the high point for me. She can read my mind and will bring a "secret" loaf just for my own private dining on a different day. My parents and Ron's mom complete the day and we are grateful for every year that passes when they are able to celebrate with us.
The blessings of fellowship on Thanksgiving Day are just as abundant as all the food. And even though it requires much time and planning to make it all come together, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Thanksgiving reminds me to thank God every day, for everyone and everything in my life.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours...
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever"