There is a chill crispness in the air that introduces fall and, before you know it, it’s that time of year to pull out warmer blankets, oversized sweaters and prepare for the string of holidays that bring families together.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the dinner fixings, the quality time with family and the anticipation it brings for the Christmas season.
I no longer look at it as the holiday that supports the discovery of the new world, but rather as a designated time to sit down with extended family and give thanks for all that we have. This was the tradition we had when my Aunt Debbie was still alive.
Debbie loved going all out for Thanksgiving. Often her home looked like a Pier 1 Imports catalogue exploded in her home. Before she got sick, her house was the designated meeting place for family on holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
The oven-roasted turkey filled her house with a cornucopia of savory scents that met everyone at the front door, instantly bringing a hunger pain to our stomachs.
Debbie could be heard yelling for people to get out of the kitchen so she could finish preparing the meal and to ensure no one’s appetite was ruined before everything was done. Yet there was always one scavenger looking to sneak a bite of stuffing.
Two dinner tables were set up separating the adults from the “kids” with beautiful harvest place settings. That tradition carried on even when my cousins and I were over the age of 18. Yet it was a time to rekindle our inner child, a time to forget the real world for a short while, to feast to the point of a food coma and enjoy harmless jokes.
After her passing, it has been harder to get the family together. Someone always feels left out because of drama or a fued. It frustrates me that there’s not a designated holiday house anymore, and a lot of the family is busy working, studying or taking care of infants. There seems to be a separation that is not allowing time to be set aside for all the extended family to spend with each other and catch up with one another’s lives.
I keep finding myself wishing my aunt Debbie was back to provide my daughter with the holiday cheer she always brought, but that is impossible in the way that I wish. I’ll keep Debbie’s spirit alive by honoring her and providing similar holiday cheer.
With Savannah in the world now, it is time to plan our own holiday festivities that would make aunt Debbie proud. It will be her first Thanksgiving and I want to honor my aunt’s memory and spirit. I feel it is essential to recreate the same warm and safe holiday house that is full of love and good times for my daughter.
I do not want to fear that it will just be dust in the wind, never to leave a mark on the world, let alone my own family. Life goes on, but holiday memories and traditions that are cherished keep an essence of those who have passed on alive. My aunt’s spirit will live on for a long time because of the many hearts she touched each holiday season.
I’ll continue to wake to my Savannah sunrise, giving thanks to the blessings she brings to me and teach her the importance of unity through family and spreading holiday cheer. I want her to look back at her life and remember holidays filled with family and immense amounts of warmth and love.