Does anyone really have that? A Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving? We all have sweet memories I hope, but I’m pretty convinced we don’t always measure up to the famous painting. Honestly, I do not remember my Mother ever presenting a beautiful browned turkey to the head of the table for my Father to carve. If I am wrong please correct me, but most people I know slice that turkey in the kitchen while making gravy, sweating from the heat of the kitchen, rushing to get those last minute sided cinched up. While everyone is getting seated. My Mom never sat down to eat for more than 5 minutes. And the kitchen was a crazy mess from all the cooking. My Mother spent days preparing, it was not for a lack of being organized. Then to top it off, the meal is mostly eaten in less than 15 minutes. She did not even get the sweat wiped off her brow before she was scurrying around getting the mess cleaned up. Then we sat around all afternoon mostly napping, maybe your family watched football. My family was not big sports enthusiast.
Actually my sweetest memories as a young adult living at home, was waking Thanksgiving morning with the aroma of a turkey being roasted. Hearing my Mother clamoring in the kitchen, and having a Hot cup of coffee with her at the kitchen table. We would work together getting things prepared, anticipating the arrival of extended family. Most of the time we had a displaced friend or two that had no family join us. My Mother could not stand to even think of anyone she knew spending Thanksgiving alone. The actually eating of the turkey went so fast, it’s hard to remember.
Since I have been alone the last 7 or 8 years, I have been honored to be a guest in several other Thanksgiving celebrations. All of them were great experiences but none depicted that lovely Norman Rockwell painting.
I have been really weepy the last few days. Yesterday, if my husband had not died, would have been my 15th anniversary. Like I have said before, my marriage was not the Cinderella Story marriage. We struggled, a lot, so with great respect to my late husband Paul, the love affair was not the biggest loss for me. My anniversary reminds me of all the time I wasted getting fatter, wallowing in my own self pity, and wishing I had done things differently. I regret terribly not keeping the weight off that I once loss, I regret never having a child, I can not speak of that without tearing up. The last 15 year was full of loses and regrets.
I do not have the opportunity to a do-over, so what can I do with all the regret and sad memories that keep flooding in my mind today? I can learn from them. Pretty simple. I can tell you what I would do now if my folks were still alive. I would not get so caught up with the food and preparing. I would make sure NOONE I knew was going to be alone on Thanksgiving. And even if they were too depressed, fat or shy, I would bring them a plate of food to their doorstep. Believe me, it’s not what you do as much as your effort to connect with them and not fix them that matters most. (I’m not fishing for an invite, I already have one, so thanks for thinking of me anyway) The next thing I would do would be to really embrace the family I have. Even if there is some conflict in the relationship. I would try to stay connected.
I would not stuff my face into oblivion. And I would IMMEDIATELY get rid of ALL the leftovers by bedtime Thanksgiving evening. (maybe at most, keep a little of the turkey only). How good it would feel to wake up the next morning, feeling great and not miserable or guilty? How good it would feel to not have that fridge and counter full of left over food screaming my name? Honestly, if you are morbidly obese, and still so emotional connected with your food that you secretly keep a stash of leftovers for later, in the name of not depriving the other in your house, you have a dysfunctional relationship with food. I remember in the past eating perfectly at the Thanksgiving meal, but it was those left overs that got me.
For me, I could not stick with a food plan until I broke up my love affair with food. Once you do this, you suddenly see the twisted thinking, and you recognize it in others. It’s almost shocking the extreme measures we go to maintain our relationship with food. You can surf the net to find lowest calorie recipes. Tell yourself and other that you are going to just have a little taste of everything in moderation, but trust me, most of the time, you will cave somewhere, sometime. If you do believe you can handle all that food left over in the fridge, and eat little potions within your calorie budget, well, honestly, you will be eating turkey and leftovers way until after Christmas.
For many of us, food is our love language. The thought of not having a huge spread with all the traditional high calorie food not available for the ones we love is something you can not fathom. If you are morbidly obese, and planning a food feast this year, just be prepared to accept, this may well be the last Thanksgiving you have with your loved ones. In my eyes, there is no piece of pie, or piles of mashed potatoes and stuffing that would be worth leaving this planet for.
So for sure, if I could go back in time, even though my Moms Thanksgiving was so tasty, what I would bring back would be that cup of coffee, at her kitchen table. My advice to you is to embrace your family and friends, and not the Turkey.