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I'm Thankful - I Think

Everyone has their own interpretation of what Thanksgiving means to them. To some it's just another day off of work, to others it's a time for reflection on the things in their life for which they are thankful. For me, it's been an evolutionary process.

It was a wonderful time...

As a child growing up in rural Missouri, Thanksgiving meant going to visit my Grandma Mary and Grandpa Vern in Illinois. It meant seeing my uncles, aunts and cousins and most of all it meant presents. We could only afford to go to Illinois once a year so we would have Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one. It was a wonderful time for us kids. We went to the movie theater or roller skating with our cousins on Thanksgiving night.

Thanksgiving had changed for us...

As I got older, we didn't go to Illinois very much. We evolved into something different. My Mom would cook a huge dinner and my sisters and I would invite our boyfriend of the month to come celebrate with our family or we would spend the holiday with our boyfriend's family. Either way, Thanksgiving had changed for us. We were too caught up in our own young lives to truly be thankful. When I met my husband we continued the thanklessness of our teenage years. We were married and did the "Thanksgiving Thing" with our respective families, still somewhat caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday and not truly understanding its meaning.

Then we became parents and the whole ballgame changed dramatically. Our first Thanksgiving away from our families was a few weeks before our middle daughter was born. We were reluctant to leave the comfort of our home to venture out when I was so close to giving birth. We had our own Thanksgiving dinner together, with our older daughter. It was somewhat disastrous.

I rolled up my sleeves, shoved a stick of butter and an entire onion into that bird...

I was extremely pregnant, there were at least five inches of snow on the ground and I had absolutely no idea how to cook a turkey. My husband had been given one as a gift from the school district where he taught and it was my duty to cook it. I rolled up my sleeves, shoved a stick of butter and an entire onion into that bird. I salted and peppered it within an inch of it's life and put it into the oven.

...said bird should have been thawed first.

What I didn't take into consideration was that said bird should have been thawed first. I kept waiting for the little red button to pop up and tell me that the turkey was ready. Three hours passed, five hours... the bird getting browner and browner. Finally, we decided that the timer must be defective and took the turkey out of the oven. In the meantime attempts at making sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie were total failures. We ate our meal with gusto though, thankful that the meal wasn't a complete fiasco.

We have our own traditions now...

Time marches on and in the years that followed, we became better cooks. I learned to make tasty dishes and delivered them to our various Thanksgiving dinners. We gather with friends over and enjoy family time. Thanksgiving now has a considerable amount of meaning for me. It's not just a time to gather with family and friends, it's a time to learn thankfulness and to teach gratitude. Our children are older and they view Thanksgiving as a time to connect with their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, much as I remember doing as a child. They also view it as time to cook with Mom and Dad. We have our own traditions now.

...thaw your turkey before cooking especially if you plan on tossing it in a deep fryer...

No matter how you view Thanksgiving, whether as just another day off work or a time to gather with the ones you love, always remember... thaw your turkey before cooking especially if you plan on tossing it in a deep fryer. You can laugh now and be thankful.

words by carrie cabral

pics by t. smugala


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