Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It was my mom’s too. My mother was a wonderful cook. Her turkey stuffing was simple but memorable. In fact, my brother used to tease that he was going to make a stuffing sandwich with the leftover the next day. I think he really did. It tasted even better on day two.
My mom died the day before Thanksgiving in 1979. Every year since that time, Thanksgiving has been bitter sweet for me. It is still my favorite holiday because of the family togetherness and wonderful feast, however it also reminds me of my mom’s death too. One of the wonderful things that commemorate my mother’s life is that making her special stuffing has become a family tradition.
No matter how fancy the food, her simple recipe is reproduced and eaten with gusto. Over the years, my son has taken on the job of creating this dish and does it with love as he remembers his grandmother too. Of course, my mother has been gone a very long time, and I no longer grieve, but it is comforting for me to think of her as we are gathered together. Her spirit is always in my heart and I recall how she bustled around making sure that everyone was stuffed and happy.
Whenever I feel sad, I try to practice the advice of a wonderful teacher and author, Ken Keyes, who said, “To be upset over what I don’t have is to waste what I do have.” Ken was the personification of that thought. He was a quadriplegic who could only move one finger. Yet he radiated love and light and inspired thousands of people.
When I feel carried away by my negative feelings such as loneliness, grief or hurt, I talk to myself out loud and make a list of what is in my life right now that cheers me up. I usually start with the basics, with being grateful that I have a bed to sleep in, a roof over my head and money in my wallet. I keep listing until I realize that I also have people who love me and appreciate me and I still have loving memories of the ones who are no longer with me.
Perhaps, like me, you have lost someone who was also a great cook. You might honor her by making her special dish and sharing it with friends and relatives. With each bite you can remember and thank that loved one. If you are still grieving, make your own list of what you can be thankful for at this time of year and see if your mood shifts to see the brighter side of life.