This Thursday is my absolute favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving. Growing up Jewish, Thanksgiving was our big holiday. Of course, the fact that it focuses on food helped too. I’m from a foodie family; everyone is either a good cook or, if they don’t cook, they know good food and they like it. I’ve done our family feast for a while; my Mom is a little too old to manage the meal, and I love doing it.
I’m a fresh turkey girl; fresh seems to cook more quickly and tastes a lot better. And, that stuffing had better be just that – stuffing – not dressing baked separately. In fact, my opinion is that the turkey exists for 2 main purposes, to generate gravy and to act as a stuffing incubator. That it also produces some mighty tasty meat is a bonus. In addition to the turkey, I love each and every one of the side dishes. Mashed potatoes? Yes, please, with extra butter. Sweet potatoes? You bet, just so long as they aren’t sweetened. Generally I just bake them, and serve with maple cinnamon butter. For a vegetable, I go with seasonal and fresh; some years brussel sprouts baked with bacon, other years sliced parsnips, rutabaga and carrots sautéed in olive oil with garlic and fresh herbs. Then there’s dessert, the star of the meal. Pies; pumpkin, apple, and usually one more just for fun, all served with fresh whipped cream and ice cream. During the meal there’s a selection of good microbrews and wine to drink.
Yeah, Thanksgiving rocks. When Rick and I started dating he fit right in with my family. My parents and he started a mutual adoration society on their first meeting. Every year he would pick them up and bring them over before dinner, and I’d bring them back after dinner. This let me keep cooking before the meal, and let him handle the cleanup after. Gradually we ended up adding his family to the group, and often a few friends as well.
This year will be different. Rick won’t be here. It’s funny, because before I met him we had perfectly fine Thanksgivings; but it’s not the same anymore. He fit in so well with my folks, and it seemed like he had always been there.
There won’t be any family Thanksgiving this year. My parents feel the same way; none of us could stand the idea of doing dinner without Rick. I’ve been invited to dine with friends; I may go, I may not; it will depend on my mood that day. My folks are just staying alone. We’ll go out for breakfast, but that’s it.
I’m starting to face those “firsts”. The initial one was last week; my birthday. We always made a big deal about birthdays, making up a rule that you needed to celebrate 1 day for each decade. In our case, that led to some fun multi-day celebrations. It was never about spending money on things, it was always little, fun things. The best gift Rick ever gave me was a song he wrote. Back when we first me he gave me a CD he’d recorded years earlier and told me how one of the love songs on it was written for the person he was hoping to meet someday; and how that person was me. That was nice, but having him write a song just for me was even better and was the best gift I’ve ever received.
Facing my birthday this year just wasn’t possible. I canceled it. Went on facebook, told people I wasn’t even acknowledging it this year. Didn’t bring donuts to work, didn’t go out with friends, pretended it just wasn’t happening. The day was bad, a lot worse than I would ever have guessed. I ended up crying the bathroom at work, something that hasn’t happened in weeks. But, I made it through the day.
And, I’ll make it through Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and his birthday, and our anniversary, and the anniversary of when we first met, and every other day that has importance as a holiday, and every day that’s just, well, another day.
In the end, that’s what I’m thankful for. For family and friends who have been there for me when I’ve needed them; for having a decent job that means I haven’t had to worry about paying bills, for the cat who’s been extra affectionate ever since Rick got sick, for the incredible response to this blog I started as a way to help me sort through my feelings, and most of all for having had the chance to know Rick and be with him. Even though it didn’t work out the way we hoped, I’d rather have had the years we did have, even with all the pain and sorrow I’m going through now, than to have never met him.