Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend!
I realize there probably won’t be very many of my readers checking in with this column today. There’s just too much to do – or not do, as the case may be.
Still, I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t at least try to add something helpful or meaningful to your Thanksgiving celebration.
This is because you do so very much for me every day of the year.
Your support and encouragement makes it possible for me to continue in my unwavering desire to improve life for you and all beings on our small, endangered planet.
So I wanted to add a little value
to your Thanksgiving celebration today.
But what to write? I certainly didn’t want to add to the chorus of health gurus chiding you to “go easy on the carbs” and “watch your portions today.”
And I didn’t want to do another treatise on How Thankfulness Makes You Healthier because I did that last year. (If you’re interested, you can revisit it by clicking on the link. It was pretty well-received.)
My editor and I were thrashing this question out a few days ago: “What can we say that will give more meaning to this day for our readers?”
And, quite spontaneously, she told me the story of the last Thanksgiving she had with her mother. It was poignant and really moved me. So I asked her to share it with you in her own words. And here it is:
“My mother was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She was forgetful, disoriented, but still very much herself. And she still enjoyed strong relationships with her family.
Mom knew something was “wrong” with her. She was aware that her health was declining. She knew this could be her last Thanksgiving — and she wanted it to be spectacular.
She was planning to pull out all the stops. Mom wanted to roast the biggest turkey shecould fit in the oven … prepare three kinds of stuffing … and bake four types of pies.
But here’s the thing: Her children and grandchildren didn’t want all that.
What we really wanted was just to spend the day enjoying her company. We wanted to hear her stories and share her memories — while she still had them to share.
So we asked Mom not to cook. Of course, that didn’t work. Then we hatched a scheme, just like we did when we were little kids.
We decided that everyone would bring something for the feast — and that we would bring so much “something” that Mom wouldn’t have to cook.
Well, she was having none of that. She was determined to single-handedly create an epicurean extravaganza. She wanted to give us all a Thanksgiving to remember.
It took the repeated pleas of her grandchildren to finally convince Grandma they would rather have pizza for Thanksgiving. All those puppy-dog eyes and angelic smiles eventually wore her down.
Incredibly, the Thanksgiving menu for that year became takeout pizza.
On that memorable Thanksgiving Day, our family gathered around the old oak table. The damask tablecloth was ironed to perfection. The centerpiece flowers were beautiful. The gleaming china reflected the candlelight. Fancy goblets were filled to the brim with sparkling cranberry juice.
Grandma was relaxed, rested, happy – and beautiful. There was no pandemonium in the kitchen and no grand standards of perfection to achieve.
She sat at the table with sparkling eyes, enjoying her family and the love that surrounded her. She answered question after question about her past, her parents and her childhood.
As the evening wore on, Mom shared stories of crossing the Atlantic on a giant ship, going door to door selling homemade cookies during the Depression, working her way through school, joining the navy in World War II, learning lessons of compassion from German prisoners of war, and then meeting Grandpa…
It truly was a Thanksgiving to remember!
The grandkids were enthralled. We adult children got to see our mother in a whole new light. Freed from the burden of imitating Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart, my mother was able to just be her true self.
There was no turkey. No cranberry relish. No stuffing. No gravy. No lavish desserts. And yet, for our family, it was the best Thanksgiving ever.
By the time the next Thanksgiving rolled around, the woman who had created so many meals and memories for us was gone. But the impact of that humble Thanksgiving feast continues to touch us all, year after year.”
My Mom passed away not long after our last Thanksgiving dinner with her. Both she and all of us were very fortunate to be together at the very end.
Although my Mom had a troubling and challenging life, she left this world in peace, surrounded by the people that she loved – and who loved her.
Life is so short – and our memory is even shorter. All that we love and cherish will soon become just a recollection.
We can’t change this.
All we can do is be completely present in the moment — being 100% here, not distracted by the holiday hoopla, the football, or the Black Friday sales.
In the end, what really matters are the relationships we forge and the intimacy we share.
This is the true feast.
I’d love to hear about what Thanksgiving means to you and your family … how you’ve been touched and moved … and how you celebrate.
Please share your memories, experiences and insights [below] so we can all gain and grow from your wisdom.
From the bottom of my heart – and from all of us here at MyHealingKitchen and Jim Healthy Publications — we wish you a truly nourishing Thanksgiving celebration.
Like they say: “Gratitude is the attitude!”
‘Til next time…
“Keep getting better!”