For me, no holiday comes close to stacking up to Thanksgiving. Yes, I recognize the historical controversy surrounding my favorite holiday, but I am putting all of that aside for now. I love this holiday for three reasons…..it focuses on gathering family, has nothing to do with religion, and no presents are required. This is all about friends, family, food, and conversation. My parents set the stage for this kind of celebration when I was very young. Politics and any animosity can wait for another day. This is for celebrating all that we find as our common good.
Before I moved to Montana I hosted Thanksgiving for thirty years in San Francisco and then in Princeton. With two parents, three siblings, three children and a host of cousins, nieces, and nephews (and now grandchildren) the table was always full and the only common denominator was chaos. I moved the dining room table aside, added two rental tables, hauled out crisp linens for their annual debut and spent days planning for a meal that would be consumed in twenty minutes. It never got old. Moving to Montana has required new logistics and the groups are a little smaller but chaos still reigns.
The first rule to having fun at Thanksgiving is to lower the bar of perfection. One year I will nail the perfect turkey and the next year it will be just OK. I always seem to forget something….peas in the microwave, rye bread rolls that are still rising, and one year I forgot the stuffing altogether. It has been a running joke….what will Mom forget this year? When the kids were small they could be crestfallen if one food tradition were little out of whack. But as they got older it just became part of how mom does (or doesn’t) do Thanksgiving and they have just gone with it.
This year we will be a small group…a daughter, some friends, and my 96 year old mother. I always implore people to go around the table and say what they are grateful for (my kids have always hated this part growing up but begrudgingly complied). This year I will once again beg those gathered to comply and I have been thinking of what I will have to say. It gets simpler every year….the snow capped mountains, the fresh air, my three amazing children, good health and the fact that my mom is still at the table with me after seventy years of sharing my favorite holiday.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.