I knew as Thanksgiving approached that it was going to be a rough holiday for me. Every holiday is tough after you’ve lost a parent, and I didn’t expect this one to be any different. It seems impossible to me that in just a little over a month it will have been a year since Mama’s death. But I think Thanksgiving is the most poignant of all the holidays, because Mama was all about Thanksgiving. Perhaps because Mama was all about cooking. And family. What holiday sums that up better than Thanksgiving?
I wanted to find some small way to have Mama with us this Thanksgiving. Just a way to acknowledge and remember her. It didn’t take long for me to decide that the best way to remember Mama this Thanksgiving was to cook. Her great joy was cooking. It was how Mama showed her love for people. And it was always a gift from the heart. Since Victoria is cooking the turkey and all the main parts of our meal, it was obvious that I should make some desserts. If you visit Mama’s web site, you’ll quickly realize that there are a lot more dessert recipes than anything else. Mama loved her sweets.
I decided to make a couple of Thanksgiving pies. I wound up with two kinds. Sweet potato pie (which is a standard that Mama made all the time at Thanksgiving and Christmas) and apple pie (which Mama didn’t make all that often, but which she loved). I used recipes that she posted to her web site, and I have to admit that they turned out quite well. Of course, I’m pretty sure that Mama was looking over my shoulder as I made them. And I really wish she was here to take a bite and tell me what she thinks.
This being Thanksgiving, I just wanted to mention Mama and her pies. I am so thankful that I will spend the day with family. Part of me wants to say “my new family”. With Mama gone, the ties to my old life are gone, whether I like to think about that or not. I am surrounded by loving, wonderful people. And while I may never again break bread with any of my family in North Carolina at Thanksgiving, I will think of them every year. I am thankful for those wonderful people I spent so many holidays with in the past. But I am even more thankful for those I’m spending Thanksgiving with this year. They are my family. I love them, every one.
I am filled with love and melancholy this Thanksgiving. But I am unexpectedly happy and full of peace. Somehow making those pies means that Mama is with us, and I don’t miss her as profoundly. She’s with us. And she will always be with us.
I love you, Mama. Can you see my pies? Upholding family tradition, I have to categorically state that I think I’ll get ’em better next time. Does that sound familiar?