Now that it’s finally November, my thoughts have turned to Thanksgiving. Undoubtedly, this is my favorite season of the year. And yet, this year is bittersweet. This will be our first Thanksgiving spent without our beloved Nana. My mother-in-law died in January of this year, and I have to admit that I’m still in a good deal of denial.
When we visit PopPop, I imagine that the house is so strangely quiet because Nana is at her Crafty Ladies meeting, or shopping, or anything but the hard truth. Everything is as she left it. Including the last load of laundry she did, as her pretty yellow shirt still hangs in the laundry room to air dry. Her sneakers still sit in the corner.
PopPop has strategically placed pictures of his bride in every location where he spends the most time. There is a picture of her propped up above the sink, so that whoever is doing the dishes can see her beautiful smile. Her bathroom mirror is still dotted with favorite Bible verses.
Since moving to Florida nearly 16 years ago, we’ve spent every single Thanksgiving with Fiddledaddy’s family (save for one fateful year when my little family succumbed to what I can only describe as the black plague). The majority of those Thanksgiving dinners were a seated gathering around the ping pong table, bedecked in Fall trimmings, with Nana and PopPop at the head. This will be our first Thanksgiving without her.
I assumed that everyone would gather with their own individual families, as a couple of Fiddledaddy’s siblings (there are 6 in all) have welcomed grandchildren this year. I further assumed that one of the siblings would envelop PopPop into a new Thanksgiving tradition seated with their own family. I panicked a little at the prospect. Not only would I finally be forced to revive my Nanny’s dressing recipe (never written down and only a dusty memory in my cobweb filled head), but the thought of not sharing that day of thanks with all of those in-laws, out-laws, and cousins made me a little weepy.
This year more than any other, I realize how blessed I have been to live here and raise my children among this amazing family. It is an anomaly, to be sure. All 6 siblings and their spouses live within 20 miles of one another, with their own families. Only one sweet nephew is out of state with his wife, serving our country. Holidays are a crazy spectacle. One I would greatly mourn if we weren’t all together.
But something unexpected and fantastic happened. I learned that PopPop had announced that he still wanted to host Thanksgiving at his house. “I will cook the turkey,” he proclaimed in his jovial New York accent. All of the rest of us will supply the trimmings. The Ping Pong table will once again be bedecked in all the Thanksgiving finery we can find. And much laughter will fill that sweet house again.
Without a doubt, Nana will be smiling down on the ping pong table. And her laughter will be heard in the voices of all of her grand babies.
I can hardly wait.