We didn’t go to over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving this year, but we went to my brother, Brian’s, in Philadelphia. Aside from the huge stone fireplace he doesn’t have, and the walks in the dry creek beds we couldn’t take, it was just as soul-filling, since it’s time spent with my siblings that always made my holidays enjoyable. Oh, and the food. So. Much. Food.
We drove – two days each way – which provided views of scenery that were somewhat similar, but different enough from what we see at home in the Ozarks to make the trip enjoyable. We missed peak fall foliage by a couple of weeks, but the mountains and valleys through Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania were still beautiful. We even saw a dusting of snow in the Allegheny Mountains.
Since we drove, I was able to pack some things from my pantry and help cook – one of my favorite things about the holidays. I took along a pie plate for the chocolate and pecan pie, and some of the ingredients for the cornbread dressing. Brian is usually in charge of the dressing at his family’s holiday fetes, but there were going to be a lot of vegans at this gathering, so we decided to take on two different recipes. He made one with chorizo for the carnivores, and I whipped up a vegan version of my cornbread dressing, but left out the sausage. (The recipe is at the bottom of this post!)
On turkey day, we all gathered at my brother’s father-in-law’s house in downtown Philly. It’s a beautiful area, and I enjoyed having a reason to take a walk once the turkey was in the oven. I love walking in cities – the sounds and sights are different than a suburban neighborhood, and the closeness of the neighbors encourages folks to define their own spaces on a much less sprawling scale than where we live.
The leaves were still on trees in downtown Philly, and covered sidewalks. I imagine all the lives that have passed through the doors of these places and how they have left their marks on them; the homes on the people, and the people on the homes.
When the meal was ready, we tucked into the abundant side dishes and desserts, and enjoyed the laughter and stories we each brought with us to the table. Everyone shared something they were grateful for, which included the usual things: safe travels, family, and sweet potatoes.
I am also grateful for my siblings’ happiness. Now that our mother is no longer with us, I appreciate, maybe more than before, the closeness we have with each other. We are not siblings who bicker or compete. We are genuinely concerned for one another, and spend time keeping in touch and supporting the others’ work and lives through our words and actions. We know this kind of relationship is not necessarily the norm, and we’re grateful to have it.
But also, this turkey. Whoa.
I hope you had a holiday – whether it was a whole week or just one day – that allowed you to feel gratitude. I believe the expression of gratitude in our lives is a “gateway drug” of sorts – the more we express it, the more joy we encounter. And we all deserve more joy, don’t you think??