Once in a Lifetime

According to the national weather service, this was the coldest Thanksgiving in more than a century for those of us living in the metropolitan Atlanta area. This morning’s low of twenty-two degrees felt like thirteen. The wind chill truly cut the skin like razor blades. My prepared turkey sat in its pan out on the deck as it waited to be roasted. No refrigeration was necessary.

*   *   *

For the first time since 1888 (125 years ago), the holidays of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving fell on the same day. We are told that this occurrence won’t happen again for 79,043 years. Uh, so what? Honestly, I don’t get all this “Thanksgivukkah” stuff, but I am glad my kids got to fly home for two holidays versus just one.

*   *   *

Thanksgiving has always been “my” holiday. Starting twenty-five years ago when we first moved to Atlanta and I was pregnant, it became the holiday that I learned to cook for and came to host in my own home. And over most of these years, since my husband and I don’t have family living in Atlanta, we’ve been fortunate to have many different family members come visit and celebrate with us. Grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, and friends have all been welcomed.

Things, however, are changing now. First, my grandparents informed me that they could no longer make the trip to Atlanta from Florida. At ninety-four and ninety-five years old, traveling the ten hours by car or flying the two hours by plane is too difficult for them. I feel fortunate that I had them here with us last year, but am very sad that those days are over.

Then, even tougher to swallow, my recently-engaged-son informed me that – starting next year – he’d be celebrating Thanksgiving from now on with his new wife and in-laws. (Their annual Thanksgiving is a family mega-event with their own long-standing traditions.) So, I guess I’ve truly reached the end of my Thanksgiving “era”…or have I?

*   *   *

These seemingly random events join the list of things that perpetually highlight this weird new phase I’m going through. The winds of change are upon me and I’m powerless to do anything about them. But, I can control my thoughts and attitude about them.

I’m writing tonight’s blog entry from the quiet of my living room. As a result of some redecorating this past spring, this particular space – with its coffered ceiling and Tuscan golds and earth tones – is my newest “safe place.” The dimmed lights, the fire in the fireplace, and the Harvey’s Bristol Cream in my glass have succeeded in warming me from the inside out so I can reflect back on today and zero in on what counts most.

I am grateful that my parents, kids, husband, and some close friends were here to share the favorite recipes that I enjoyed preparing. I am thankful that I’ll have a chance to light four nights of Hanukkah candles with my kids. (Since they left for college, being together for all eight nights has been impossible!) I am happy to be dedicated to a family, friendships, a career, and a community that keep me grounded and focused. And, I’m blessed to be gaining a wonderful daughter-in-law this coming year. What’s more important?

Happy, happy, Everyone!

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