Thanksgiving is the time of year that we taste our grief.
Literally. I mean, no one makes homemade cornbread dressing like Mom. But … she isn’t here anymore to make it. It cannot be the same …
So, like any perfectly sentimental daughter, I always make dressing like Mom made dressing. I use her recipe. But still there’s that missing ingredient. Mom.
That’s the part where the grief dribbles like escaping gravy onto the white cloth atop the Thanksgiving table.
But the holiday need not be completely ruined. Because Thanksgiving is also the time of year that we taste the love.
I sorted through a lot of keepsakes and belongings in my parents’ home after their deaths, but their recipes were unlike anything I cried over.
In fact, I do not cry when I make the dishes using their handed-down cookbooks. I smile. It’s as if despite the distance between us, I can pull my mother closer.
A box of index cards, smudged with food particles, make me smile, too. These were Mom’s special recipes, the things she made us over and over again.
Food is life. And there is pleasure in eating good food. Pleasure.
There’s also pleasure in eating the foods of your youth. And there’s wisdom in laboring over the same five or six dishes that your parent or grandparent labored over at Thanksgiving. You get a renewed appreciation for the labor of love they demonstrated.
That all equates to a Thanksgiving rescue for our Thanksgiving grief.
Oh, our grief does not evaporate nor should it be ignored. And maybe your grief will eclipse the sense of love this year. Your loss is still too fresh.
My pivot from the intensity of grief and toward the bits of healing took years. I’ll never be immune from the sense of something … um, someone … is missing from the dinner table. But I will snuggle in the love as often as I feel it. I will savor it and taste it and allow it to give me pleasure. I will allow it to offer life.
What is your favorite recipe keepsake? What memory does it evoke?
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