On Thanksgiving

Now, we couldn’t very well post on American Thanksgiving without having thanksgiving be the theme, could we? Didn’t think so. This week for Remember the Time, show us thankfulness.

cool whipThis is a ready-made week, the kind where you know what to expect and what you should write about. We can sit back and be thankful that the occasion of Thanksgiving is (at least, in theory) uncomplicating the act of living. For this reason, I like holidays; they are the calendar’s version of Cool Whip. Just spoon it out and you’ve got a day that would have been ordinary had you not added a little magic.

Thanksgiving is special to me not because of the meal (although that meal is pretty fantastic) but because it gives me the opportunity to just be happy for the sake of happiness. It’s uncomplicated because I don’t have a lot tied to it. This, however, presents a quandary to me as I try to create traditions for my own little family. In the quest to make a beautiful, sepia-tinted life for us, I’m probably at a severe disadvantage because I don’t run to Pinterest. Instead, I draw on my own memories of the way my family did things when I was growing up. As I approach Thanksgivings past with the Cinemascope lens of nostalgia, I have to admit that I don’t remember much. Despite all the pomp and circumstance of casseroles and turkeys and French braided hair, my brain can’t think of a single Thanksgiving memory that stands out.

Poor Thanksgiving. It’s not Halloween and it’s not Christmas. It’s like those pilgrims were celebrating for nothing. I’m not helping either. Our Christmas tree has been up for over a week.

My lack of remembrance doesn’t mean that I don’t have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful for the nature of memories and impressions. I may not distinctly recall the cornucopia of sidedishes laid out on my grandparents’ buffet, but as an adult I can now appreciate the amount of work the adults in our family put into creating a day that was meaningful for us all even if we weren’t sure how. I think that’s how parenting is a lot of the time. You read your kid a bajillion books, take them on a million random outings, and do all sorts of holiday-themed activities in the hopes that maybe 20% of it will stick and that your child will remember something fondly.

From the carrot Thanksgiving

From the carrot Thanksgiving

I know that the faint glimmer of those Thanksgivings past are there and that they mean something to me, though, because when B and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving together in Chicago in 2005, I found myself completely fixated on recreating my mother’s horseradish carrot dish. Out of left field came this fervent need to get the recipe of a side I had never particularly loved as a kid. And it couldn’t be just any recipe I found on the Internet; it had to be my mom’s. What had once been a compulsory dish I passed with indifference became the one and only non-poultry item I had to have on my first Thanksgiving out on my own.

As a child, you blindly cast your net out into the sea of traditions and holiday warmth. As an adult, you bring it back in and find some strange things caught in it. In my case, it was horseradish carrots. What is it for you?

This Thanksgiving, I’m sitting back and luxuriating in the fact that there is an invisible line that connects all those forgotten holidays to the ones I haven’t even experienced yet. I’m looking at pictures of myself as a child sitting at the Thanksgiving table. I don’t remember those meals well at all, but as I look at myself, I see a familiar face: the one of my own daughter.

emily and cee

Happy Thanksgiving!

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27 comments

  1. Hey Emily-
    New to your blog, and I dig it muchly. Guess us moms are up early this Thanksgiving, huh?
    Your post was beautiful. I so relate to hunting down a recipe from a particular person, for no cookbook or internet recipe will yield the same “tried and true” results that we’ve tasted over the years. That taste like memories, and home.
    Your last paragraph was beautiful. The last sentence in particular. Today, I’m grateful for the inspiration that bloggers like you provide me. Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Thanks, Samara! Sorry I’m just now replying to your comment. I’ve been a lazy blogger. Hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you got to sleep in a little ;D

  2. Happy Thanksgiving! I hope it’s a special one for all of you.

    1. Thank you! You too!

  3. That last paragraph says it all, so beautifully. Happy thanksgiving to you and your family!

    1. You too, Darla! Thanks!

  4. Happy thanksgiving!

    1. You too, Guap! Hope y’all had a great one!

  5. […] should have known. When I clicked on The Waiting‘s Thursday post to see what this week’s Blog Hop theme was going to be, I realised that […]

  6. A nice post. Several comments in random order:

    I think you are wise to try to build memories for your family and to not rely on ‘technology’ to do that for you. Remember the time we were all sitting around tapping on our iphones together on Thanksgiving? That was awesome! Yeah, I don’t see that ever happening despite the fact I’m typing out my comment here on one as I’m in Phoenix, up before my wife and with my 3 boys in different parts of the country today.

    Thanksgiving as a child to me means “cousins”. I think about carefree running around on my grandma’s farm with my cousins and not a care in the world. Maybe I will find time to write about that this weekend or maybe about the past fee turkey days that my wife and I have tried to make come off with all 3 boys.

    Thanks for the memory jog. Create a fun and carefree atmosphere for your kids, try to be with family….and smile. :)

    1. Thanks, Rob! Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

  7. It’s so funny…the things that are remembered are often not the ones we try to make memorable. Like horseradish carrots. Happy Thanksgiving, friend!

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you too, my dear! Hope it was a great one!

  8. I think Thanksgivings are hard to remember from our younger days because there weren’t any presents. Thanksgiving we think “Oh I ate a lot of stuffing” and that happens every year.

    The only thing I can remember from Thanksgiving years ago is seeing the Three Musketeers movie that came out in the early 90s. I think we also got KFC. My family is such trash; not even white trash, just trash.

    1. That really nails it. What’s the good of a holiday when you don’t get anything except a tremendous stomachache? I felt tremendously ill after glutting myself this year. But you just reminded me that KFC exists so now I want to eat again.

  9. Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday. Massive quantities of food and drink and no gift-giving. Getting to see my cousins whom I don’t see nearly enough and using every excuse to get out of playing in the family football game.
    Happy holidays to you and yours!

    1. Hope you had a great one too!

  10. Twindaddy · · Reply

    Happy Thanksgiving, Em! Hope it was a good one!

    1. You too, TD! Happy Food Hangover!

  11. Thanksgiving is about sitting calmly and watching the parade on tv with my brothers and waiting for football and the meal. As an adult, it means a pumpkin pie in the oven and making Thanksgiving crafts with my children and then board games and turkey with my in-laws.

    1. That sounds divine ;D

  12. Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had a great one. :)

    1. By the way, that red coat is ADORABLE. :)

      1. I know! I want one for myself ;D

    2. You too, Rara!

  13. I love the way you write and think and manage to take the mush that’s inside my head and formulate it into clear and coherent sentences and thoughts. This was a beautiful post about nostalgia and struggling to recreate traditions. I’ve done my version of the carrot horseradish so many times, attempting to recreate mom’s or grandma’s dish that I never particularly loved in the first place. I loved, loved, loved everything about this!

    1. Thank you, friend! Isn’t it weird the things we latch on to?

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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