Love and Laughter on Thanksgiving Day

There is a certain joy to be had in celebrating Thanksgiving with one’s family. For 16 years, I have celebrated it apart from my parents and my brother and my aunts and uncles and cousins and extended relatives. I have celebrated it instead, with my two children, my husband and my dog, this year… there is an additional dog in the mix.

Thanksgiving day here is a rather quiet affair. We buy way too much turkey. We have yams and green bean casserole and pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce because these things are required, and I think someone always wants mashed potatoes with turkey gravy too. It’s a lot of food for four people. Generally speaking, the dog gets a fair portion of the turkey, or at least, the previous dog did. Miss Lucy is allergic to turkey. I think we can give her some of the mashed potatoes and a few of the green beans as long as we carefully remove the french fried onions from the casserole before applying it to her food bowl.

So much has changed in 16 years and not just the dogs, though right now, it is the most noticeable change for me since it’s the most recent. My husband and I started off just saying Happy Thanksgiving to each other and eating whatever we had planned for dinner that night and we skipped the whole turkey and gravy thing entirely. When our kids were little, they didn’t want to eat turkey and cranberry sauce the first year we relocated away from the relatives. We were both too tired to cook it anyway.

Now I can’t believe what I see when I look at my children. When did they get that tall? When did they do all of this growing up? My oldest is almost 18 years old. He’s been looking forward to turkey and cranberry sauce for about two weeks, no more chicken nuggets and french fries for him. The youngest is 16 and she’s the reason that we make yams every year, even though her father and I really don’t need the sugar or the addition to the waistline. Her tastes have clearly advanced beyond having Spaghetti-Os in her hair and down her shirt and none in her mouth.

The kids are what thanksgiving is about to me and my husband. We have enjoyed spending it with them and sharing our memories of holidays that have passed us by. I think that’s why this particular Thanksgiving is so hard for me. This is the last Thanksgiving I will spend with my son while he is still legally considered a child. I remember him at his first Thanksgiving, rubbing mashed potatoes in his hair and by his second Thanksgiving, he was banging on his tray and shouting “Pah-TAY-TOES!” at the top of his lungs. I remember my daughter being passed around a room full of love and laughter for her first Thanksgiving when she was not quite two months old, and soon she will be going off to college.

And it will be me and my husband and my dogs when they are gone.

I will miss them so much. Just as much as I miss my parents and my brother and my aunts and my uncles and my cousins.

The love and the laughter is still here though. That will never change.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.