I donít know about you, but I begin the year looking forward to the end of it. The fall is my favorite time of the year, mostly because it leads to Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Yearís Eve. My family is big on celebrating holidays, big or small, because it means we can get together for a meal. This year wonít be any different, but it will be the first time Iíve spent Thanksgiving with my family in a long time.
In past years, my husband Gideon and I have alternated the holidays. If we spend Thanksgiving with his family, my mom gets us for Christmas. Christmas is my momís favorite holiday, so she usually lobbies to get that one. Sadly, I havenít spent Christmas day with her for the past two years. Itís the way our schedules have worked out. Iím not happy about it.
Gideonís family lives in Fayetteville, so itís much easier for us to go there for holidays. Making the drive to Texarkana and back can be taxing, especially if weíre bringing our cat with us. We wonít be doing that this year, because my mom and nana now have four dogs between the two of them. In Nanaís words, ďYou want that cat to get back alive, donít you?Ē
I usually prefer Christmas to Thanksgiving, but not this year. This year will be the first time Iíve spent Thanksgiving with my family since 2013. Thatís four years of spending Thanksgiving in somebody elseís home. No matter how much I love Gideon and his family, nothing replaces the feeling I have when Nana places her dressing on the table and tells us to dig in before she eats all of it.
Itís not just the dressing. Nana makes every casserole you can imagine better than youíve ever had it before. You might contest that and say your grandmother is a better cook, but weíll just have to agree to disagree. Sheís also an incredible baker, and she always makes more pies than we can reasonably eat. Chocolate, pecan, coconut, pumpkin Ö you name it, she makes it.
ďI guess youíll have to take the rest home with you,Ē she says, as if itís a burden.
After dinner, we usually finish off the wine and play card games. Mom loves Phase 10, even though she rarely wins. We might listen to some music or watch a movie, too. It depends on how theyíre feeling.
Thatís the thing I love most about celebrating holidays with my family. We donít have a specific structure to the day, and we play most of it by ear. Some years, Mom wants to go see a movie. Other years, we all stay in and have hot cocoa and popcorn on Nanaís back deck. No matter what we do, I feel comforted knowing I get to do it with the people I love most.
So of course Iím ecstatic about bringing Gideon home for Thanksgiving for the first time in our four-year relationship. Thatís another great thing about the holidays. As our lives change and we grow older, we get to bring new people into old traditions. Gideon will have Nanaís dressing for the first time this year. I hope heíll realize itís better than his familyís stuffing. Maybe heíll even learn the recipe and start making it on his own.
Thatís probably wishful thinking, but thereís one thing Iím sure of. In just a few months, Iíll be eating Thanksgiving dinner in my nanaís dining room. Itís like stepping back into my childhood, especially since I havenít gotten to do that for years now.
You can bet Iím excited about that.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is†Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.