Monday, November 23, 2009

Giving Thanks

Thursday is Thanksgiving and I'm not gonna lie, I'm slightly depressed this year. On September 15, we were officially under contract on our first house. On September 16, my job congratulated me with a shocking layoff. Guess they were afraid my new 50 mile round trip commute would somehow interfere with showing up? Who knows. On September 17, we officially lost our mortgage because of my layoff. After looking for over two years, we finally found everything we needed within our price range, then lost it within three days.

The husband needed a basement and garage and I just needed a dining room. If you know me, you know I'm not exactly the resident chef, that's actually my husband's job. When we first met, I did my best and cooked him many a meatloaf, chili, baked mac and cheese, etc. Over the years, he got really into cooking. He reads countless cookbooks, has our TV locked into Food Network 24-7 and just basically enjoys it more than I do. Everyone agrees, he's really an awesome little cook too.

Anyway, this was going to be our very first Thanksgiving hosted by us. We were to move in this past weekend allowing us less than a week to set the place up. I was determined. We have two rooms at my mother-in-law's house filled with dozens of amazing wedding gifts we don't have room for. We have beautiful plates, serving dishes, stand mixer, convection oven, etc. Finally we would have it all unpacked and ready to use in our new home.

Getting that close to buying a house was too good to be true. I didn't want to tell anyone, but I knew something would step in and stop us. I just wasn't sure what it would be. We had our funding. We had our wedding money. Would it be the inspection? What exactly would it be that would screw us? Sure enough, something did and here we are in the same small one bedroom and my mom is once again hosting Thanksgiving.

Yes, I am very, very thankful for my mom and for her generous love and hospitality. I'm just bummed deep down that here I am over 35 years old and I still can't host my own holiday. Our apartment is cramped. We don't have a decent table or room for one. Our kitchen is beyond small and sucky. It just won't work. Yes, many renters host a fabulous holiday. I know they figure out a way to make it work. Me, I just can't. I want it done right. I want people to fit comfortably. I want to invite about 12-15 people. I want things to look perfect. I want people to be able to sleep over if they need to. Hopefully next year we'll be in a house but the way the job market looks, I'm not holding my breath.

When I was a kid, I never really thought about future Thanksgivings. It's really weird, but I'm having difficulty even remembering where we spent Turkey Day back in the days. I'm pretty certain that in the '80s we had dinner at Grandma's. Her house would be jam-packed with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins, etc.

In the '90s, my mom began hosting it to give my grandma a break. One thing I do remember? The wish bone! My mom would save it to the side for me. I'd make a wish in my mind and pull on it hoping my wish would come true. I doubt it ever did, because my wishes were more like unobtainable dreams, "I want ET to come to our house and beam me up to space with him" or "I wish I could marry Ralph Macchio" or "I want to be the next Punky Brewster and have my own TV show." Yeah right. Like any of that's really ever gonna happen.

My mom would starve us all day long and still does! Acting like the food police, she wouldn't allow us a morsel before dinner. "We're going to eat a huge meal, don't touch a thing!" she'd yell, handing us an apple. Sorry, an apple doesn't count as food in my book. I cheated as I got older...

By the time I was driving, my brother and I would sneak out for a burger. It became a bit of a tradition to find a way to eat before the big bird was served. It usually included finding food from an outside source. For example, I once took my little cousins, who were in town from Florida, to Hempstead for White Castle (it was the only place open). I remember the horror on their young faces as they looked around at unsightly customers, wondering where the heck I had taken them. I was going to try to keep it a secret from my aunt, but of course they ratted me out about the rat burgers.

Thanksgiving, 1990
I remember being away at college and the cafeteria throwing us some really inviting Thanksgiving feast before closing for the long weekend. It was a true New England meal with stuffing and cobblers. It was a new and different experience. Hanging out with my roommates and friends from school. We exchanged stories about our family's traditions and all shared a certain excitement about the small break. We couldn't wait to get home to our friends and relatives for the holiday weekend.

Thanksgiving, 1993
I remember my lone semester at Stony Brook. A guy I was dating became my official boyfriend right before Thanksgiving weekend. That Wednesday afternoon I drove him to the train station. I hated the idea of not seeing him for an entire four days. I remember us holding hands while I drove him and thinking, "I'm thankful for my new boyfriend." It kept me smiling the entire holiday season.

Thanksgiving, 2003
My very first real holiday with my husband was one I will remember forever. We had talked about a Killington resort we both loved as kids (there's an older blog about this). I did some research and got us a great deal on a 4-night stay complete with breakfast every morning and Thanksgiving dinner. It was our first real trip and I was super excited about it. He came to NYC and picked me up at my apartment in his little car and we headed up to Vermont for a romantic getaway weekend. It snowed every single day. After a truly gourmet Thanksgiving dinner, we were stuffed for a few hours but then by midnight, typical of us, we were ready for a snack. We drove in the snow to a single pizza place that was surprisingly open. That holiday weekend was incredibly memorable. I even met up with my cousin and her boyfriend (now husband) for dinner in town. Coincidentally, they too were spending their first Thanksgiving in Vermont!

Thanksgiving, 2008
Last Thanksgiving, I was recovering from gall bladder surgery and had to be careful with what I ate. That was probably a blessing in disguise since I can really "put it away" as my mom would say. We had a blast though. We went up to my aunt and uncle's house in Connecticut and got a deal on a nearby hotel thanks to a friend who works for a major hotel chain. It was freezing as we inched towards the hotel, but it was so cozy and it was our first married Thanksgiving. I couldn't ask for a better holiday. I'm sure I'll always remember that holiday as well.

The one awesome thing about every Thanksgiving, is that I'm lucky to always find myself surrounded by the love of my family. That truly is something to be thankful for. Corny, I know, but true.

1 comment:

Tom McMillian said...

Ally, beautiful story! Thanks for sharing. Tom


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