Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite days of the year. As a kid it meant helping my mom bake an endless sea of pies, tarts, and cinnamon rolls. It meant the scent of savory turkey and homemade dressing perfuming the air all day, and the soft bubbling of potatoes boiling in the background. It meant dressing up in our best clothes and feeling oh-so-grown-up with the tiniest glass of white wine with our huge meal.
As a teenager, Thanksgiving took on a deeper meaning for me. It was an occasion for all of us to get together. My brothers were no longer living at home- they no longer had girlfriends, they had fiancées- and they were away living exotic lives at college and in the real world. My sister and I were both working at a restaurant while attending high school, so sit down family meals were no longer the daily norm for us. Thanksgiving punctuated our busy lives of school, work, dating, and friends to remind us that family was just as important. We goofed around, helped prep the meal, and afterwards, when the table was cleared, the dishes done, and fresh booze poured for all- out the deck of cards would come.
When I entered university, Thanksgiving became the epicenter of my world. If I could just last until Thanksgiving, I could probably survive the move across the country. If I could remain self-sufficient until Thanksgiving, I could consider myself truly independent. If I could bond with new friends before Thanksgiving, my world would broaden considerably. If I could just make it home to celebrate Thanksgiving, I'd appreciate the holiday for its true meaning. Thanksgiving became my pressure gauge. I came home from out East to decompress, to spend time with my family, and to reconnect with my friends. It was at this point in my life that Thanksgiving became a very important time for me; I started to be thankful. For friendships that kept me sane, for my part-time job that kept my pathetic bank account afloat, for morning phone calls from Mom, for funny emails from Dad/the dog, for lunch dates at ESM with Ashley, for the opportunity to live in Nova Scotia, for family back home that cared.
Now that I'm that much older, and a parent myself, I love making holidays a big deal for my kids- any and every holiday. I want them to remember their house smelling like turkey and cookies, the sound of their cousins running around laughing, the anticipation and feeling of festivities. I want them to remember that we put family first, that I set aside my stupid diet to make fabulous food, that I took pictures like a mad fiend to immortalize our holidays, that we went out of our way to make things special for them. And so, I spend hours decorating our house and yard with the kids, we do crafts, and bake treats for everyone we know. We read books, and watch holiday themed cartoons. We get together with our parents, brothers, and sisters, and all their kids and - dressed in our finest garb- raise a super tiny glass of white wine in gratitude for the important things and people in our lives.