When all was said it done, we ended up twelve of us gathered around two tables pushed together to make one long one; for a while it looked like we’d have more but this was a lovely size. I wielded a mean glue gun last weekend and made my own napkin rings, having finally succumbed to the allure of Pinterest. I found a new dressing recipe, still cornbread-based (I never have quite lived down my first foray with Thanksgiving, me newly married, my mother-in-law still not sure about me, and I so foolish as to find a dressing recipe in Gourmet Magazine that had nothing to do with Southern traditions) but a nice variation on the theme, with sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme I’d picked earlier from my garden, and dried cherries.
I planned better and paced myself through silver polishing and ironing in the last week. Some things I figured out I wouldn’t have the time to make but could still place an order for, and the generosity of friends who were determined to help make a feast out of this day, made a difference. It made the morning move through gently; at our busiest, my sweet husband and I stood and kissed in the kitchen. We were happy just doing that and looking at each other.
My granddaughter Grace, who I held in my arms day-before-yesterday, stood at my sink, a junior in highschool, slicing tomatoes on the cutting board my Spouseman made for me. During lunch, I sat next to my dad who quietly said my party reminded him of my mom’s parties. All of a sudden, this utterly different tradition than anything my family of origin had ever known was somehow part of that fabric too, that patchwork of cultures that make up my life.
The hole left by Maria, who could not be here today, and had her Thanksgiving with the staff and residents at BARC Housing, never stopped aching and that too was alright. This isn’t about perfection. It is about goodness. She was already getting ready for bed when I talked to her just a bit ago, excited because of all kinds of things that will be happening in the next few weeks, including voice lessons she’s starting on the 30th. Here, some are napping, some are watching football and I am getting ready to take on the next round of cleaning and putting up. Maria isn’t the only person I love and miss today. There are so many. In the end, that’s what I am most grateful for—all those people to love and call mine, no matter how far away.