This is a slightly different thanksgiving for me. Growing up in an Italian house cooking is always a big deal, thanksgiving is like cooking and eating on steroids. My Nana made the best meal, we had more food than you could imagine. Everybody went home with leftovers.
Thanksgiving was a day to eat yourself into a coma. Italians are a bit twisted this way, we had a pre-meal, pasta, Cavatelli to be exact with Sausage and meatballs. In most family’s pasta is a meal, not for an Italian family. Eating is like an Olympic event for an Italian, you have to stretch and prepare for the battle. Trust me if you ever saw my grandfather eat it looked like he was in a battle. By the time the meal was done, you could use a shower, definitely a nap and there were more than a few passed out on the couch. The rest prepared you for round two, the desert. There were so many desserts, probably 1 pie for every two people and some deserts did not get touched, too many.
As I grew up and my nana aged, some of the cooking was shared by my mom and she fully assumed that role when my nana passed. Mom carried on the tradition perfectly, the meal is always outstanding. The guests did change over the years. my cousins had their own family and they did their thanksgiving meal. Now, living in Florida it is just my mom’s cousin, a friend of my parents, and my wife and kids. Smaller audience but the same great food, same tradition.
My mom had back surgery a few weeks ago and preparing a big meal is off the table (no pun intended). Mom and dad will be having dinner with a friend. Two of my kids are fully grown and doing their thing with their boyfriends and girlfriends. That just leaves me, my wife and son at home doing our own thing.
This year is the first break in the tradition, it seems a bit strange, not bad just different. No big gatherings, long drives or marathon cooking. It will be quieter. As I sit here writing this, I have the opportunity to think back on the year, the tradition and how thankful I am for what I have. Isn’t that the point of the holiday anyway?
I’m sure by next year my mom will be back to the tradition, her back will be better, and the big meal will be on again. Like a true Italian mom who cooks, a back injury will not sideline her forever. The cooking marathon and the tradition will end on her terms, not a back injury. Happy Thanksgiving, loosen the belt, get ready for the onslaught of food and enjoy the day no matter what you eat or where you are. Don’t forget the day, be thankful for what you have.