We love this time of year. This holiday has a very special meaning to Erica and I. Our father loved this start to the holiday season. In the weeks before Thanksgiving, our father, an amazing cook, would start to plan the menu with each one of his children. He would start talking about who was going to do what, what each child would be responsible to bring to the annual family pot luck. His face would just light up while making the plans for the special day that we would spend together. The truly funny thing about this story is that we always had the same thing year in and year out, but we had to get together and talk about it and plan the menu.
We are from Louisiana and a very southern meal was always on the menu. Some of the traditional family recipes could take up to as many as two days to prepare. It was not uncommon for one of the four girls or my brother to be the lucky child that got to come over early and help my father prepare the fix’ens.
My parents always had an open-house Thanksgiving. Anyone who did not have a family around or no one to spend this day with was always welcome to sit at our family table. So, we never knew who would be our guest for that very special day.
This year, our sister, Yolanda, will prepare one of the family favorites—the Dirty Rice. This is definitely one of the two-day prep ahead recipes. Just yesterday she said to us out loud, “This time of year always reminds me of Daddy!” Especially when we are prepping the food for the Thanksgiving dinner. My heart was full. We think of him so often thought out the year, but I think of him more around Thanksgiving.
One of my father’s favorites items to serve at Thanksgiving was a baked turkey. He took special care with this turkey. He would get up at 2:00 am, put the turkey in the oven, and cook it extremely slow at 200 degrees. He loved the turkey; he would baste it lovingly, and watch slowly.
We, as kids, hated baked turkey. We would beg him every year not to bake a turkey. We would suggest, let’s just have fried turkey and ham. No, he would say every year. We need something to make our leftover sandwiches with after Thanksgiving Day. He was always right. Erica and I have taken on this tradition for the family in honor of him. Now, every year since our father has left us, we bake a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. No, it doesn’t mean that I get up at 2:00 am. That is just crazy!
We share this story with you, because we love our Dad. He was an amazing man. He never met a stranger. If you ever came across him, he would want to know everything about you. You would instantly feel like family to him. The second reason we share these events is that we want to share with you, the griever, that we do miss my father and at this time of the year, we think of him fondly. Our hearts are not breaking. We do not have the feeling to get into bed and never come out.
My siblings and myself live in our “New Normal,” without our father. Since his death, we have had the birth of one of his 2 great grandchildren, and one wedding in this crazy family. Trust me, we do miss him. But we refuse to live in a “lesser” life. A life of pain. I have not forgotten my father. I think of him often.
This year in 2019 we keep a little of him alive in our hearts by baking a turkey and thinking of him. Erica and I know that this holiday will be hard for so many of our friends that are grieving. Know that we see you. We know that you are grieving. Question: What is the one tradition that you are keeping or changing this year for Thanksgiving in honor of them?
Friends, although you cannot and should not try to forget the past, and we know that holidays can bring up so much pain in our hearts that does not mean that we do not have to skip or avoid the day. This blog comes with a big hug to each and everyone of you. ~ Sharon