When Someone You Love Isn’t At The Table Anymore: A New Kind of Thanksgiving
22nd Nov 2017
Thanksgiving is all about family and friends. To me, it’s the dream holiday- no religion, no gifting, just people, food and TV. And, maybe, a bit of reflection.
This year, for the first time, I’ll be celebrating alone. And while that might sound vaguely tragic on paper, I’m really, really looking forward to it. I know where all my family are and I know they’re all happy in their respective locales. I know where most of my closest friends are and I know they’re pretty happy, too. And that, right there, is what I’m thankful for. It’s no small thing.
It’s not often enough that you take time to sit back and acknowledge without a million distractions just how grateful you are that the people who matter most are in relatively good places. Some are fighting illnesses or surviving bereavements and breaking marriages but they are well supported and well loved. They are resilient and strong, and getting stronger. Looking out into the mess of the world beyond, we all feel lucky.
Sometimes, amidst the epic preparations for a celebration, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s too easy to forget the real point of the thing. But spared the copious food shopping, chopping, stirring and carving, I’m going to relish thinking about this past year. About our daughters’ weddings bookending the summer, my mum’s heroic fight back from a sudden heart attack, a friend’s battle with cancer, other friends moving to a whole new life in the new year, and the people who aren’t here any more, whom the table always feels empty without.
As you get older, there are more and more of those missing pieces in your personal jigsaw and a million things trigger memories of them. I’m particularly susceptible to remembering people through the prism of food- a dish always prepared a certain way or relished with abandon, a favourite restaurant or well-used serving plate can set me off.
My friend Scott died two years ago. In our family lore, his energy, fraught at times, has been distilled and immortalised in the form of a classic, labour-intensive tomato ragu his Grandma Norma used to make. It’s now, and forever more, Scott Sauce; the smell of it cooking in the kitchen is quintessentially him.
Scott Sauce instead of turkey would be my preference this Thursday.- a nod to the fact that we all miss him and that his wife, my best friend, has survived. It’ll be nice to have him around for a little while, but particularly at a time when I can be relatively sure that the incredible people he left behind so suddenly are all together, happy and safe and healing. Yes. That’s a real Thanksgiving.
Photo Credit Daiga Ellaby, Unsplash
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