My Perfect Thanksgiving, then and now.

We'd been married just over a year.  We'd moved from the furnished, dinky, dingy Victorian studio with the nosy landlady to a larger unfurnished one bedroom basement apartment, with low ceilings that, in hindsight, should have made Carl claustrophobic.  But oh well.  It was a step up.

When my folks came up for a visit shortly after we got married and looked around that first apartment, my dad said to me "If I knew what Carl was getting you into, I wouldn't have allowed this to happen."  Well Dad, you couldn't have stopped it.

When Carl's family came to visit that first place, his young niece needed to use the bathroom.  There was a curtain, not a door.  And it was close enough to the big Wedgwood stove that you could reach around and move a pot off the fire.  Their answer to her privacy concern was "Just sing while you pee!"

I decided I'd do the next Thanksgiving.  Enough of driving to Newport Beach for holidays.  We'd have everybody over in the low ceiling apartment.  I don't remember where all the people stayed but it wasn't there.

I'd never done a Thanksgiving dinner but decided this was my moment.  Nobody said 'Go big or go home' back then but that's what it was about.

The turkey grossed me out.  I pulled stuff out to put stuffing in?  Oh, I had to consider if it could even fit in the oven?  Homemade rolls?  No problem.  What's yeast?  It takes how long?  Cranberry sauce in a can?  I don't think so.  These are cranberries?  They are rock solid!  Sure, canned gravy works just fine.  But I made it from scratch.  Pies.  I'll make homemade pies.  And I did.

We had my folks and I think two of my brothers...maybe all three came.  We had Carl's family.  That made eleven or twelve.  I don't remember if we sat at card tables or sat on the floor.  I don't know if we even had enough flat ware for everybody.

What I do remember is it took days to do.   And then it was over.  Over.  Just over.  Nobody got sick.  Everybody said it was good.  And I couldn't believe it.  It was over.  And then I looked around that pathetic kitchen, and ran out of the apartment in tears.

They must have thought I was crazy, loony.  I know my mom never did a completely homemade Thanksgiving.  And Carl's mom was rather exotic so I bet she didn't go overkill on the tradition.  Umm, always comparing, eh?

Carl ran after me.  He had taken on the role of trying to get me to figure out what was wrong when something was wrong.  "What's wrong?"  "Nothing."  Nothing was no longer an acceptable answer.  It was the huge emotional let-down.  It was just over.

Lots of lessons learned from that event.  Never created that circus again.  I now know I don't always have to prove something.  It can't always be about me.  It has to always be about the people.

The wrestling match with my ego goes on daily.  It loses more than it wins these days.  Sometimes I put it down for the count before we even get into the ring. 

Now that's a lot to be grateful for.  The small daily victories.  I remember them. Cherish them.  Then move on to the next one.  I remind myself I am surrounded by miracles.

Happy, happy, Happy Thanksgiving.  It's the best America can give to the world in these times of distress.  It's the best we can give to each other.

Live richly,



  1. This one makes me cry -- good tears, little tears -- but tears nonetheless. Thanks for sharing a story many can relate to, Mom.

  2. Wow! It made me cry too, while writing it. That's often when I know I might be on track. Thanks, Daughter!


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