Thursday, November 28, 2013
On this day of the year, we make a collective effort, as a society, to be mindful of the people, circumstances and things in our lives that we are grateful for. Despite the varying view points surrounding the actual origin of this particular American tradition in regards to its Native inhabitants, I think that the focus on expressing and feeling gratitude is a beautiful thing and one that is often neglected in our hectic daily lives.
As with most women, the holidays are often a mark of a season of "busyness". There are menus and dishes to prepare, sentiments and gifts to share, lists to make, people to get to, houses to clean and, inevitably, pounds to shed at the start of the new year. My hubby and I have tried to pare down the craziness this year by keeping things simple and focusing on improving something in our home as a family. We decided to spend the last couple days moving my son into my mom's old room. It is bigger, cooler and, since her passing four years ago, has remained somewhat in limbo. This project entailed cleaning, moving, purging (my favorite), and decorating his 'big boy' room and bathroom.
We ended the day with preparing the majority of the food for today's Thanksgiving meal. Hubby made the ham (that's our family tradition, we don't have the turkey thing down), the potato salad, the rice and I made the stuffing (Stove Top), the gravy (just add water), salad (a new recipe I tried with pecans, goat cheese and cranraisins), and my famous once-a-year (because it takes way too long and is expensive to make) banana cream delite. After a morning at the annual Turkey Bowl touch football game for the boys and watching some of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for me and Snoop, our little trio sat to a quick, simple and delicious collaboratively prepared meal, which we shared with mom, dad and uncle, as well, before they went off to visit family.
As I sat at the table, my mind couldn't help but to recall Thanksgivings past-memories filled with family, good times and lots of food, all prepared by our mom, of course. When my dad passed away I was six years old and my mom was left to be the sole provider and parent for six children, ranging from ages 4-19. And yet, not a birthday or holiday went by without gifts, decorations, thoughtful touches and a table laden with homemade delicacies. Mom worked grueling hours at the Juvenile Detention Facility and, never having learned how to drive, caught the bus to and from work each day, sometimes after 16-hour shifts. Still, every fourth Thursday of November, we awoke to the smells of turkey and homemade stuffing in the oven wafting down the halls and stairs of our two-story Kalihi home. The gravy was homemade, the pies and crust were lovingly prepared by her hands and the table was set with the best serving dishes. All for us, her little family, and prepared all by herself. With the exception of my oldest sister, who was her helper, and my second oldest, who was off at college or on a mission, the four youngest were, how to say it best-spoiled? Lazy, maybe? Yes, I admit and accept it (sorry for calling out my other three siblings on this, but you know it's true, lol)! Mom never complained and never yelled at us (although she should have) to help cook, or even set the table or clean up afterwards. She just wanted to see us happy, fed and content. And that we always were.
And so today, as I lifted fork to mouth, I turned to hubby and said, "You know, I can't imagine that mom did this alone for years on end, making things from scratch and doing all the hard work without complaint." I felt her spirit with me and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and humility for being raised by a woman who emulated the true spirit of motherhood, sacrifice and love. We all do the best we can with what we know, and I can only hope to pass on to my son some of the lessons that my mom passed on to me. I'm not sure I'll ever conduct myself with the grace and absolute selflessness that my mom embodied, but I can certainly strive to do so. With all I am and all I have, I want to say "thank you, mom"-today and everyday. I love you.