Thanksgiving Memories

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Dear friends,

If I had to choose one holiday as my favorite, it would be Thanksgiving.

On the face of it, everyone could use a reminder to be thankful for family, friends, possessions, health, the beauty of nature, and so on. I also appreciate the spiritual underpinnings of the holiday, as we who are particularly blessed tend to forget where it all comes from.

My warmest memories center around a large family meal which included foods we didn’t have very often such as turkey, sage dressing, black olives, and REAL mashed potatoes. What about the cranberries? I was never a fan; probably because my mother used to buy a can of gelatinous sauce and slice it like a loaf of bread. I think she was the only one who ever ate any of, yet it appeared every year like clockwork.

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The ubiquitous pumpkin pie also made an appearance, along with apple and cherry, but I always went for the OTHER pie mom used to make only twice a year. It was called Ritz Cracker Torte, from a recipe she found somewhere years before I was born (yes, I still have it). This dietitian’s despair was made of sugar, egg whites, Ritz Cracker crumbs, and chopped walnuts, among other things. Bake, refrigerate, top with real whipping cream, and Voila! Heart attack on a plate. I loved it back then, but can’t eat foods like that any longer. My blood sugar goes up just thinking about it!

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Growing up in a large family, we gathered around an enormous dining room table for the meal, with a couple card tables for the little kids on the side. The whole thing was messy, noisy, and required a group effort to pull it off. When the kitchen was clean and leftovers divided, we would break up into smaller groups for games – usually charades, telephone, twister, or the dictionary game. Sometimes, we even did skits or songs. It was a lot of fun! As older siblings married and had kids, Mom and Dad could be found spoiling the babies, or watching sports on TV with my brother’s-in-law.

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Nowadays, I live too far from my siblings to join them for any holidays, and I miss this one the most. One of my sisters still hosts a family gathering at her house on the weekend before. Good food, laughter, games – it’s all there (except for the cranberry sauce). On a sad note, my mother passed away on Thanksgiving Day back in 2000. It doesn’t normally bother me, but I miss her just a bit more this time of year.

Whatever you have going on this Thanksgiving, take a moment to reflect on your blessings, share with others in need, and tell the special people in your life how much you love them.

Holiday Hugs,

Alex