Thanksgiving Rituals

Nearly every year for about 20 years I visited my mom in Florida for Thanksgiving. This started after my son was born and continued until 2018 with only a couple of exceptions. It was some combination of my first wife, my kids and even my current wife.

After several years of cooking dinner, my mom made reservations at her club instead of making dinner. This put those two days of food preparation back on the table to spend time with her grandchildren. She never made another Thanksgiving meal.

And Black Friday was a holiday until itself. Before stores were open on Thursday. Before stores opened at midnight on Friday. We got up early and went to the outlet mall—specifically the Nike outlet—so everyone could get new shoes. There were extra discounts if you got there at 6:00am. We did.

Thanksgiving won't look the same this year. In 2019, my mom came here and we had a simple Thursday dinner of homemade pasta. I did acquiesce and get her some roast turkey from the food bar at Whole Foods. This was only after she insisted that we have turkey. Well, after initially agreeing that pasta would be ok.

And last year she had just arrived at the memory care community. So we had another simple dinner at home. Just Deborah and I.

Which brings us to this year. While there was never a chance for one more Thanksgiving with mom's condition, she passed away earlier this month. This is going to take some time to get used to. You think you'd miss the big things, but it's the little things. I can't call her and share some piece of news. I won't hear her voice again. Voice mails and videos are just not the same.

I'm not a big fan of most holidays, but that's because of what they have become. It turns out that Thanksgiving is really about family. Not food. Not shopping. But being together.

I will definitely think of my mom today. But it's time to create some new rituals. We are having dumplings for dinner.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen