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It inevitably snowed on Halloween and we had to wear coats over our costumes and boots beneath our princess dresses. Christmas was fraught with pitfalls: My Jewish father wouldn’t let us have a Christmas tree. Would my mother think a fur beret was just the thing a four year old wanted most? (She did. I wanted a Betsy Wetsy doll.)
But Thanksgiving was perfect. It was about getting together; eating the best meal of the year and thinking of all the good things we had to be grateful for. My mother started cooking days in advance. She made her own giblet soup for the stuffing. Pies cooled on the counter. Casseroles of all kinds were assembled. Even the “extra” refrigerator in the basement was filled. And by Thursday, oh, was it good! My mother was just awake enough to gather compliments.
When I grew up, the torch was passed to me. For twenty-something years, despite the fact I worked full-time, I invited aunts, cousins and special friends, set a table with linens, silver, flowers and all, and cooked all the traditional recipes my mother passed on plus plenty of my own. One year, despite having the flu and 102º fever, I cooked for fourteen — including three of my cousin’s friends from Italy. (They loved it!) I confess, being the family hostess was often exhausting. Sometimes, even a burden.
This year, I no longer live in New York near my greater family. My daughter – who especially loves my bread stuffing — lives in Paris. My step-kids are going to their mother’s for the big meal at noon and I’m cooking them and my husband a light supper of homemade soup and sandwiches. And so I’m not cooking Thanksgiving. You know what? I feel sad. At loose ends. Next year, I’m starting a new tradition. Anyone want to join us?