Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Wishbones

I never really thought much about a “favorite” Thanksgiving, but I will tell you about a favorite thing we did as kids on Thanksgiving. We'd each make a wish, then grab a side of the turkey wishbone, pull, and whoever ended up with the bigger piece got his/her wish and good luck for the rest of the year. Simple little tradition, but great fun for the kids.

As with any family, kids grow up, leave home for the first time to go to college, often they end up relocating because of their jobs, get married, have kids of their own, etc. We all know how it goes. Often, it’s not easy to get the family together for the Holidays anymore.

I grew up in Cincinnati, but my husband and I made many long distance moves in a relatively short period of time, mostly for career changes/transitions for one of us. But we were young then, and each move was an adventure! Ultimately, we put down roots in Florida, and it has been our home for many years.

My mother decided to move to Florida once she realized that we were not going to be packing up the next year and heading off somewhere else in the U.S. She sold her place, put all of her furniture and her car on a moving van in Cincinnati and flew south. And we were thrilled to have her nearby. Her first place in Florida had a very small kitchen and stove, therefore, she couldn’t host Thanksgiving dinner (at least that’s what she said). So every year, I did the turkey meal at our place.

We eventually found her a brand new, really nice 2-bedroom condo that she could afford in a gated community with a nature preserve in the back. She wouldn’t accept any financial help from the kids even though we were at a point in our lives where we could and actually wanted to help her. No way, she had to do it on her own. My Father died when she was in her 40’s and, yes, she grew EXTREMELY independent.

I had peak times of the year with my job that were just exhausting; spring time was one, and the other was heading toward early December. Honestly, many times, all I really wanted to do on Thanksgiving Day was sleep. Never could do that because I had to cook the T-Day dinner.

Soooooo, when my Mom was settled in her new condo, I suggested that since she now had a full-size stove, maybe she’d like to host Thanksgiving. She agreed, and that year Thanksgiving would be at her place. Oh my, I thought, a day when somebody else would take charge and cook that time-consuming meal. I brought a pie, cranberry sauce, and a veggie, but she was going to cook the bird, stuffing, and potatoes.

When we arrived, she did have the turkey in the oven, but that was about it. I started peeling potatoes, mixing up the stuffing, finished the other side dishes, set the table, etc. When the turkey was done, I mashed the potatoes, made the gravy, heated up the side dishes, sliced the bird, and we all sat down to a nice Thanksgiving meal. Of course, I never said a word to her, and a good time was had by all, but I knew then future Thanksgivings would be at our house.

It never even occurred to me at the time that perhaps she was unable to do that meal on her own, and she was just too proud to say so. She appeared to be the picture of health, was not taking any daily meds, was still spunky, had slowed down a bit, but we all felt comfortable with her living on her own and even driving a car in her late 70’s. Although I have to admit that there were a few times when I was a “passenger” in her car that I wished I’d been “behind the wheel.” But she knew her driving limitations and didn’t go far...out to breakfast each morning, to the grocery store, and to our house was about it.

She loved her new condo but, unfortunately, lived there for less than three years before she became ill. She went into the hospital for surgery, never made it back home, and in less than a month, the family had to discontinue life support. Needless to say, it was a tough, tough time for all of us.

Of course, we all know what comes next. Eventually, you have to go through all of the personal belongings, and choose who gets what and then dispose of the rest. My brother, Mike, who lived in Dallas, didn’t take home much at all. He could use her car, so he flew into Tampa, and drove it back to Dallas, so he had room to take more of her things with him.

My Mom passed away in June, and that Christmas my brother gave me a little shadow box that he’d made from a few things he took home from Mom’s place. He put into it a photo of Mom and me on that Thanksgiving day at her place in 2002, the wishbone that he found on her counter, and a 4-leaf clover that she’d put in his bible which was inscribed in 1953. And on the back of the shadowbox, he pasted a very special note to me. Unfortunately, just several months later, my brother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away just short of three months. It makes this gift all the more meaningful to me. Here are a couple of photos showing that shadowbox.

The shadowbox (Photo by Lutzflcat)

My brother's note on the back of the shadowbox (Photo by Lutzflcat)

So now that I've written this blog, I know that Thanksgiving really was my favorite because it was the last one we shared with Mom. One thing that I kept was what she called her “fancy” silverware which she bought when she was first married and paid for on the weekly installment plan. Inside that silverware box, I found a wishbone, but this one’s a keeper, no pulling it apart ever. I suspect that she took it home from one of the Thanksgiving dinners at our house.

I typically only use that silverware for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every time I open that box and see that wishbone, it makes me smile. We still miss her like crazy, but that Thanksgiving was memorable not only because it was her last, but because it was at her place once again, just like when we were kids yanking that wishbone.

-- Posted by lutzflcat

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position), and I'm not compensated for my work with Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews on New Horizons in the Kitchen. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of lutzflcat.