I’ve just come back to my WordPress after a very long time. My last post is in 2011. My last draft was from November 2015. Little did I know at the time that 105 days later my beloved Joe would die. In re-reading the post just now, I did what I always do, since that day, when I encounter an unexpected memory: I sobbed. I keened. And then I stopped a few moments later. I am so very grateful that we did this dinner. It wasn’t that we had no where to go. Siblings and friends had asked us to join them for dinner. But somehow, this seemed right. We made dinner, ate off the good china and had our “first” Thanksgiving.
By the next Thanksgiving in 2016, Joe was gone, dying on March 9th at the beginning of Spring so that I actually had no wait whatsoever for signs of renewal.
The below was written on Thanksgiving, but more importantly, it was written the day after my 63rd birthday. It is my birthday gift to me.
November 26, 2015
Hey. I can’t believe it has been 4 years since I wrote anything here. Well, there goes that promise to self… I think I promised myself something like, “I will write something every week OR ELSE!”
So… better now than never, right.
So what possessed me to sit down and write tonight, Thanksgiving evening, the day after my 63rd birthday?
Yup. That is it. But this was an exceptionally special Thanksgiving Dinner. Here at the end of a year of enormous loss, I needed to write about it.
Tonight, my husband, Joe, and our friend and neighbor, Bill, and I sat down on this rainy and cold Kansas night for a special dinner. I made roast pork loin and green bean casserole and cornbread dressing (poor-do as my Louisiana Nana used to call it). A simple meal, but served on Nana’s china with a candle burning on the table.
This is the first time in over 16 years I’ve dined off of Nana’s china. I inherited it from my mother, Gene, when she passed away in 1999. It has graced my curio cabinet for 16 years. I have asked myself a million times, why do I keep it? What should I do with it? Should I sell it? I tried once… the antique dealer laughed at me and pointed to shelves full of lovely china that he’d bought years before from some other granddaughters struggling with the same questions. Should I give it away to someone who would use it? My brother? He laughed. A cousin? One wanted it but we’ve never gotten together to make the exchange. But tonight. Tonight was Thanksgiving again… not exactly like the Thanksgiving of the years gone … the ones with my Mom and Dad… Aunts and Uncles … loud, boisterous cousins playing under the spreading pecan tree in Granddad’s yard in Houston … waiting for the meal to be laid … of course eating at the “Children’s” table in the kitchen rather than (as my Aunt Marlene used to say) “on the carpet” in the dining room off of Nana’s precious china. I didn’t graduate to the dining table until I was almost 25 years old… and by almost, I mean I got to sit at the Adult table on the last day I was 24 years old, my birthday being on Friday the 25th that year.
Tonight, though was special. This year, Joe’s parents both passed away. Now we both have risen to the tops of our respective family trees. Shellshocked with loss from this year, having lost friends, family and beloved pets, we… just… couldn’t…
We talked for a few days about having grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with soup. — solid comfort food — for dinner on Thanksgiving. But in the end a “real” meal was our choice.
I laughed at myself at the end of the meal tonight when I made the mad dash to pick up the unused spoons knives and forks to put them away before they had to be washed. My mother and I were always the mad dashers pulling the unused utensils and packing them away in the silver box … no need to wash them if no one had used them! But of course, we always laid a proper table. Two forks, knife, soup spoon, tea spoon, all had to be laid for each diner, even though the likelihood of them using all that silverware was very low.
Just a little while ago, I performed the other ritual that my mother and I always did together. The washing and drying of the china and the silverware. I had to perform both tasks because my sweet mother is gone all these years. I don’t mind, because this little ritual brings her back to me for just a moment or two.
After Nana died, and the china moved to Mom’s house, we continued the Thanksgiving dining traditions, complete with the silverware retrieving mad dash, washing and drying. Each piece of silver safely washed and dried. Each plate, bowl, cup, saucer, platter, and gravy boat gently washed and dried and then laid lovingly back upon the tableclothed dining table to assure that they were completely dry before being stored away the following morning until Christmas dinner a month hence.
I did all that tonight… the carefully washed china and silverware lay on my table as I type, waiting for tomorrow morning to be put away.
My Mama is here with me tonight. And my Nana. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t need to hold on to traditions. You miss them when you don’t participate in them. It has been over 16 years since I did these things. And I find they have patiently waited for me to return to them. And they give me the comfort of home and love.