With the holiday season coming up, I find myself thinking about my Mom more than normal. This will be our 5th holiday season since she died and it has never been the same. My Mom was definitely the glue that held our family together and I never appreciated enough how much work she put into every holiday to make it special. I try to keep up the traditions as much as possible but I fall short in so many ways.
As a kid I never gave Thanksgiving, or Christmas for that matter, a second thought. We would get together with my Grandparents and Aunts, Uncles and cousins. The food would be amazing - especially the desserts. We would play games or football if it were nice out. It just seemed so easy. I didn't realize the planning that happened before hand, all the time that everyone put into preparing the menu and the food. I was blissfully unaware if there was any kind of family conflict. I didn't know if any one person felt too much of the work was falling on their shoulders. I barely noticed who set everything out or how it got cleaned up, unless I was asked to help. I had no idea that someone put hours into cleaning and decorating before any guests (family) showed up. I just showed up, ate some great food and left the home of my Grandparents or went to my room if the festivities were at our house. Who knew that once everyone left the house had to be cleaned up again before the host could rest.
It wasn't until years later that I sensed from my Mom that she didn't necessarily enjoy all the work that went into pulling off a great holiday meal. In fact, thinking back, I can remember a few times that the turkey was really dry or something else went wrong with my Moms cooking. As a Mom now I can look back and realize that quite a bit of what we did was actually stressful on my Mom. Maybe it was the subtle or not so subtle way she said "Why do we even do this? Lets just go out to eat." I thought she was kidding but I'm starting to realize that she might not have been.
My Mom was from the 50's she was suppose to be able to whip up a meal and make it look easy. Even when her health started slowing her down and she asked me to host holidays, she still brought most of the food. The rest of us brought side dishes and desserts, you can't have too many sweets. Now that my Mom is no longer here, and my Dad leaves Minnesota long before the holidays start, it's my siblings families and mine carrying on tradition. I feel like I need to make the holiday meals just like my Mom did. Maybe it's because I admire my Mom so much that I want to be like her. Maybe it's just a small way to make me feel like she is still here with us. I want my house to be as spic and span as my Mom's house would be. I want it to have the same warm feeling and smells that remind me so much of my Mom. I want my guests to feel as welcome as my Mom always made people feel in her home. It can all feel a little overwhelming.
Thanksgiving is less than a week away and not much thought has gone into it, my family is very good about waiting until the last minute. My house is a mess. My brother that lives with us has big plans for his dessert he's making and probably has to special order some strange ingredient that goes into it. He is the gourmet cook, fun to try his creations but honestly we are just plain folk around here. I haven't talked to my other brother to see if they will be here or what time they can come. I'm not sure what my sister is bringing but she is a far better cook then I am. I'm not sure who else will make it that are in Minnesota but we'll set a plate for them if they come.
I know people say you make a new normal when a family member dies, but this "normal" feels so forced. I miss the way it used to be. Mom, I understand now why I found you crying in the kitchen after your parents had passed away. I tried to cheer you up by saying "What's the big deal, they're dancing in heaven?" I get it now why that made you so angry. You were not ready for a new normal without them any more then I am ready for my new normal. You did such a great job passing a new normal on to us kids. I hope that I am successful in passing this normal on to my kids so that they cherish their holiday memories.
Mom, I will think of you feasting at the banquet table in heaven this Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for and at the top of my list is having had a Mom who showed me how to serve and how to love. I miss you like crazy and look forward to that day when we will feast together in eternity.