Thanksgiving 2018: Thankful versus Grateful


I am thankful that we made it through
another Thanksgiving Day.

The first one without Mom
at the head of the table,
yet she was still there.

Though I did not sit in her place,
I did the things she would have done.




I. Promises Made

It’s been a tough year for all of us,
but especially for my aunt,
whose pains are visible
in her bowed-down

Torticollis, they call it.

Two weeks before the Big Day,
I called her and asked her to be
our Hostess with the Mostest
one more time,
with the promise
that we would all pitch in
on a scaled-back meal.

A week later,
she called back,
reporting all the plans
she was making:

The turkey was ordered,
a ham already in her freezer
was waiting to be thawed
and sliced,
she had fresh green beans galore
and a can of sauerkraut
in the cupboard.

I promised to set the table
and bring the fruit salad
(making a mental note
to pick up a fall bouquet
to brighten the day).

I knew my cousins
and my younger aunt
would pick up the slack:

One cousin would cook
instant potatoes,
while her brother would
haul drinks and ice
up from the basement,
carve the meats,
and do the other man-chores
my uncle used to do.

My younger aunt
would take care of the dishes
after the meal.

On Thanksgiving-Eve,
my brother and I joked
that without Mom,
we’d finally leave home
on time for the trip
over the highways
and through the ‘hoods
to Auntie’s house.

On Thanksgiving morning
I packed my reusable grocery bag
with the fruit platter
and dipping sauce,
the potted mums,
and an early birthday card
for my cousin.

Just like Mom would.

At the appointed hour,
I walked up to Mom’s house
(now my brother’s house,
but it will always be
Mom’s house)
and waited for him
to get ready to leave.

I took Mom’s seat
in the car (front passenger side)
and made small talk
on the way to pick up
our younger aunt.

II. The Arrivals

We all arrived at the same time
and made our entrance together,
shedding coats
and trading hugs.

I unloaded my reusable grocery bag,
handing the mums to my Aunt-the-Hostess
and enlisting my cousin to find
a stack table for the fruit platter,
while asking Auntie-Hostess
for toothpicks and a spoon
for the dipping sauce.

Then, I presented my cousin
with her early birthday card.

III. The Ghost of Mom

I continued to channel Mom
as my cousin and I set the table
for dinner:

“Fold the table pad at this end,
but fold the tablecloth at the other end,
to even out the bumps.”

“Now, smooth out the cloth
And make sure the edges are even.”

Then, I sat awhile,
as Auntie-Hostess
led her kitchen crew,
clanging pots and pans,
placing meats on the table,
and setting up a cafeteria-style
line for the vegetables and starches.

The six of us joined hands around the table,
and Auntie-Hostess asked me to say grace.

With that, my Mom-channeling was done.

IV. The After-Dinner

As luck would have it,
The W.K.R.P. Thanksgiving episode
was airing on MeTV!

We gathered together
in the basement
to laugh at Les Nessman
and recite Mr. Carlson’s punchline

“As God is my witness,
I thought turkeys could fly!”

V. The Great Thanksgiving

As we have done for years,
we returned to the dining room
to give Thanks
for The Birthday Girl—
my beautiful, fearless cousin,
who after 7 years,
continues to fight cancer
with a smile on her face
and a song in her heart.

For that alone, I am grateful.

3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving 2018: Thankful versus Grateful

  1. Beautiful Jackie. I did think of you that day and wondered how you would handle your “1st” without Mom but felt assured you would handle it exactly how your Mom taught you to. I’m not much of a comment person but I DO read most of your writings. I feel a distinct sistership with you since I met you on FB and for that I am grateful & blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

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