I am very lucky to have large extended families on both my mom's and dad’s side. With large extended families, you grow up attending and hosting multiple parties throughout the year.  Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandma’s birthday, Christmas, you name it…there is always a reason to get together and celebrate.

My mom’s favorite holiday has always been Thanksgiving.  She regularly volunteers to host her side of the family for this delicious feast.  Hours and hours of preparation go into the holiday meal, and it is really something special.

I have fond memories of waking up on Thanksgiving morning, listening to my mom and dad bicker back and forth.  The hours leading up to a holiday gathering were always a little tense in my house.  No matter how tense, everyone understood that they had their own role. My mom always decorated the dining room table and prepared the food, and my dad cut the turkey and washed the dishes with Grandma Marge.  

It was fun and some of my best memories revolve around the fourth Thursday in November.

One year, my aunt somehow flew her body into my mom’s formal dining room chair and broke it.  I will never forget the look of my mom, wide-eyed and totally in shock, as she assessed the damage. My aunt, who probably had a little too much Bailey’s Irish Cream, was so embarrassed and started to cry.  Today, I’m happy to say that the chair is fixed and they are both over it, but the family still laughs about it.

Another year, my mom decided to spice things up and make pulled turkey sandwiches, instead of the traditional bird.  I’m not really sure if she accidently dumped the salt shaker in the pot, or if she didn’t measure it right, but the meat was enough to make someone’s blood pressure skyrocket.  Believe me, my mom is a great cook! Nobody said anything about the saltiness, but I don’t think too many leftovers were taken home by anyone.  That will be the first and last year anyone messes with the traditional Thanksgiving food.

One of the best parts about the holiday is right before we eat. The entire family gathers around the kitchen, holds each other’s hands and shares what they are thankful for. Usually, one of my aunts will cry, and a younger cousin is far from enthused, but there is always that moment, when I take a step back and realize how lucky I am.  I am thankful.

Thankful to have a mom that loves to cook and a family that loves to get together and laugh.  Thankful for a warm house to gather in, sharing food, holding hands and reflecting on the goodness in our lives.  Thankful that I get to see my cousins multiple times throughout the year and I get to hold and adore their newborn babies, and watch them grow over the seasons.  

No longer is my dad around to cut the turkey, or Grandma Marge to wash the dishes. The family has changed over the years and will continue to grow and evolve as we get older.  Although the seasons change, I will always be thankful for our memories and traditions.