Isn't it funny how smells can be so evocative? There are smells I'll always remember--the smell of Ken wearing Aspen when we first fell in love, and he didn't have money for better cologne. My father's leather jacket. Each of my children as newborn babies, and breast milk on their breath.
Every Thanksgiving brings my mother, now gone to be with Jesus, back to my house. I am transported to the big metal 50's style kitchen table we had. I sit, a little girl, chopping celery and onions for the stuffing. The air is warm from cooking, and full of expectancy. Cornbread from scratch bakes in the oven. A pot of greens boils on the stove. It is always the night before Thanksgiving.
Each year I sit at the table and I think of her. I still chop the celery while the cornbread bakes, but I make my dear husband chop the onions! I remember all those Thanksgiving dinners when I was a child. I remember how that day and Christmas, rooted us in tradition. We had so few roots back then. We had so little happiness, but there was never unhappiness at Thanksgiving.
I saw a picture of Mama hanging in my little girls room. My sister is here, temporarily. That picture, taken so many years ago, belongs to her. Me, I've lost all kinds of pictures, moving, evictions, instability. I don't have a picture of her. So, I stood there staring at her image. This beautiful woman, with the sun gold fair skin, and the high cheekbones that hint at her Cherokee ancestry. Her hair waving down the sides of her face--the hair I used to comb when she could be bothered with me fussing with her hair. How I miss her in my own house now, with my own little girls--the house smelling of celery and onions. Of mustard and turnip greens, and of cornbread made from scratch.
Today, I wrote a friend and wish her a happy holiday, but she wasn't doing well. I had to apologize because I didn't think of how holidays are so hard for some of us. So, I am thankful, that all of my thanksgivings for the past few years have been blessed. I am thankful that even though my home is not perfect, there is great love to smooth all that ails. I am thankful that my sister is here this year, and that I could see my mama's picture. I am thankful for the first snow storm today, and for memories of jumping in 12 inches of snow in my red, white and blue snowsuit one day before thanksgiving, so many years ago.
I am grateful for sappy movies and television specials, for Christmas music, and my desire to put up the tree. I am grateful for kids I can be proud of, friends that love without reservation, a husband who is crazy about me, and for a parish that has accepted and adores us, and gave us two, count 'em, two turkeys! With all the trimmings! I am thankful the Archbishop lets us break the Nativity fast to celebrate Thanksgiving. I am thankful to God, watching over us all. I am grateful for everything, the gains, the losses, the triumphs and failures, because we are never, ever, alone. The Lord goes with us. And we must go with God.
I am thankful for YOU!
Now, go! And have a great holiday.