I miss it.
The last time I truly celebrated Thanksgiving with my family was 12 years ago. It was the same week I left Florida to move to Canada.
Thanksgiving was always a special time. My mom and I stayed up ridiculously late nearly every year mixing fillings and rolling out pie crusts. We always made about seven pies. Two to three pumpkin, one cherry (for me), one mincemeat, one-two pecan, sometimes apple. We packed them up in our two big Tupperware pie carriers and loaded them in the car for the trek to my great uncle and aunt’s house. They lived on a river and we drove three hours every Thanksgiving morning with the whole family in tow to bring our contribution to the annual family gathering.
We always stopped in the same diner in Perry, Florida. I always tried to avoid breathing in the putrid smell of the paper mill. Eventually I gave up and tried to get used to it. Both attempts were futile - it’s too pungent to block or get used to in a short one-hour visit.
By the time we got to my great uncle and aunt’s house, some family had already arrived and lunch preparations were well underway. Thankfully, there was time for a lengthy trip in the canoe or a lively croquet match amongst the trees in the front yard. Sometimes some of the family would even go fishing. The adults enjoyed time together visiting and catching up on the news of the year. My brothers and I, along with our cousins, scattered to the places we were most interested in on that particular day.
I don’t think I went a single year without heading out in the canoe. Or the motorboat if my cousin was up to it. I even enjoyed playing croquet. We found ways to make a seemingly boring game fun. (Hint: It is incredibly satisfying to send your brother’s or father’s formerly-in-the-lead ball flying well off the course.)
This year I’m thankful that in a few short weeks I’m going to have the absolute pleasure of introducing my family to my most amazing little boy for the very first time. I’m going to meet my two youngest nieces that I have only known in pictures since their births.
Every time I think about it, I want to whoop for joy and do cartwheels (except I never learned how). It’s way past time for a visit and I sincerely hope I never go this long without seeing my family ever again.
Whether you’re in the U.S. today or not - be thankful for the people who make up your family. Whether you’ve chosen them, they’ve chosen you or you were thrown together by forces of nature. And if you’re close enough, give them a hug.