I have very few memories of my childhood and it takes a lot to remember the ones that I do recall. Add on top of that being told I remembered something wrong and I might as well not bother with trying... What I do recall are feelings and the rest I piece together with a few photographs.
I do remember holidays at my Grandparents' house… I think. I remember sneaking black olives off the table, shinning the silverware, setting the table, a kid's table, the Macy’s parade on the television in the morning, football in the afternoon and lots of family. I remember my female cousins and aunts (which way out numbered the men) cleaning up after the meal and how normal everything seemed.
I do not remember the number of actual family meals that occurred or when they stopped or more to the point when my mom, brother and I were the only ones going to my Grandparent’s/Uncle’s home for the meal. My mom's family, it seemed, where much closer within their own circle then with my mom. I am wrong of course, or so I am told but that is what I feel... so there. For whatever the reason... no more big family dinners. Maybe with out my grandparents the family did not need to get together with everybody. Maybe without my dad none of it mattered. Maybe it is all in my imagination and it was I that just stopped paying attention (okay that one is probably true). Whatever the reason… there where no more big family dinners celebrating the holidays. In fact, the only one that really sticks in my mind was the first one that I cooked, with my mom; at my brother’s apartment in 2001 (might have even been 2002). That was fun. And, it was the Thanksgiving I had been craving and have been trying to recreate ever since.
Once my son was born and the husband (who was the boyfriend) moved in together there was never a formal sit down dinner together again. For one, we did not live in a place that could accommodate everybody at a sit down dinner until after my mom moved to a senior living community and it was hard for her to leave her apartment in bad weather. There have been many open house, eat when ever, type meals with family and friends gathered but nothing like a sit down pass the plates type meal. Also, family and friends seem to be moving away, moving on and just plain dwindling down till it feels like it is just him, the kids and me. Sigh.
My brother’s girlfriend, whom I adore and is Jamba Mama’s godmother, has a big Irish family and even before that he stopped showing up for family meals. My mom is in a nursing home. His family is scattered to the four corners. Friends who have celebrated in the past either have moved away or have new places to go this year. No more gatherings.
This year, the husband accepted an invite to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends. We will not have to frantically clean house or spend a small fortune on food but then again there will also be no leftovers… Not what I had hoped for when I imagined passing plates but at least we will be surrounded by friendly faces and someone else’s family. At least, we will be together and for that, I am always thankful.