Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Mostly because it is less about commercialism and materialistic crap than the others but also because I love nothing more than cooking up a storm and filling my table with people I adore. I used to love Christmas, but a lifelong career in retail has ensured that it now has it's place at the bottom of the list and any holiday joy is generally sucked right out of me right after Turkey Day. I can usually pull myself out of the Bah Humbugs by mid December and rally for the sake of my children and husband but it still sits at the bottom of the list.
I love setting the table and planning my meal. I probably spend equal time on both. I am the maverick who throws caution to the wind and tries that new stuffing recipe that looks so good in the November issue of Bon Appetit. And while breaking all the "don't try a new recipe when entertaining" rules can be extremely risky and don't always pan out because you occasionally stumble across that bum recipe, for some reason I have never ever had a bad dish come out of my oven on Thanksgiving.
It has never bothered me to stay up late the night before making the desserts and climbing back out of bed at an ungodly hour to fire up the oven and start preparing the sides. Last year even the husband was out of bed at 3am and in the backyard firing up the smoker. It was our first year smoking a turkey and after that meal I swore it would never be cooked in the oven again because it was so good.
But Thanksgiving has been weighing heavy on my mind because it looks a lot different for our family this year. Two of us live in Nashville and the other two live in NJ. There is no way I can go back home for the holiday since I work that night and Friday and Saturday as well. So I went into self defense mode and was basically pretending that it wasn't really happening. People keep asking me what we are doing for the holiday and I look at them like it is July and they are asking me that very same question. Frankly, I was getting sick of being asked about it because I had all but blocked it out. If I pretend it's not happening it really won't, right?
Then last weekend my husband and I, tired of being apart, said enough is enough. We need to be together. Being separated is wearing thin and it was decided that he will come to Nashville and we will celebrate in my little apartment together.
Naturally, I told him that he will need to pack up my brown turkey transferware. (Every year when I take them out I just want to high five my twenty something year old self for having the incredible foresight to purchase them. And a service for 8 no less. Who knew I would have been so clever?) I have been hoarding an old shoebox full of gorgeous mix and match vintage silverware that I shoved in the attic before I moved here so he has been instructed to grab that too. I will probably need to face time with him while he goes through my linens so I can decide which napkins I want packed up. Luckily I found some amazing vintage amber glassware at the Nashville Flea last month and now I have the perfect excuse to unwrap them.
But let's face it.
Setting the table and cooking all the food is really nothing more than motion and formality. True Thanksgiving is being grateful every day in all circumstances. Good or bad. Easier said than done, right? We should be thankful every day that breath fills our lungs. Not just the day that society marked on the calendar to remind us to have gratitude.
Thinking about this reminded me that I need to be thankful every day that I have this opportunity to start a new life for my family in such a beautiful place. Even if that means we are hundreds of miles apart for a while. I need to feel grateful even though it seems like we will never find the right house on the right piece of property. Or that our house in NJ will never sell. I need to take a deep breath and focus on all the good when the phone rings because my husband and daughter are fighting and they are both calling me to complain about each other. Frustrating in the moment, but no reason to lose my peace.
I am especially thankful for the people who have blessed my life on almost a daily basis speaking love and faith over my family. Believe it or not, I have also faced the opposite. I have been questioned about our decision to be apart and heard comments about how detrimental this living situation will be to our marriage and family. I told my husband before I left that this whole ordeal will most likely show us who is really there for our family and who our true friends are. My words are proving themselves. I have no room in my life for negativity or people who disagree with our choices. In fact, this time apart has reminded my husband and I how much we truly love each other and never, ever want to live this life without the other. After 14 years of marriage that's actually a nice reminder. Anyone who has been in a long term marriage or relationship probably knows exactly what I mean. While we are sure to lose some people in our lives along this journey, in the end we will remain surrounded by the ones that count the most. And I am so grateful for them all.
Last night I popped in Williams Sonoma and picked up a gravy starter, stuffing, and a dessert mix. I decided that I don't really want to spend the whole day in the kitchen cooking up a storm. My daughter wants all her favorite dishes and I am happy to oblige. But I'm welcoming all the shortcuts and keeping it all very simple so I can spend as much time curled up on the couch with my husband and best girl. My heart will be full of more Thanksgiving than any meal could provide.