Friday, November 27, 2015

A Tiny Thanksgiving + Nostalgia

A blonde girl stands bundled up and smiling by a lake in the early winter. // THE JOY BLOG
This time of year always brings a wave of nostalgia, memories from beautiful holidays gone by. 

There is the Thanksgiving where my mom used a swear word at me for the first and only time. "Get up here and make the damn potatoes and stop being such a brat!" I was a preteen, a tween, and my hormones made me a pain to be around. I was so stunned by her use of a swear word, I promptly spun on my heels and helped her cook. 

There are the holidays where we would all drive up to my grandparents' house a few hours away, and tables would be in every room on the main floor, surrounded by uncles, aunts, cousins, and my ever-wonderful grandparents. I'd sit at the kids' popup, metal, picnic table with its worn brown top, and yellow seats. I always thought that table was magical in a way -- it folded up into a suitcase. 

Late fall and early winter at Utah Lake / THE JOY BLOG

Today, the ones that stick out the most in my mind, are the ones from the years after I moved out of the house. If I close my eyes, it's almost like I can travel back in time to those sweet holidays from the past decade.

I walk up the cracked concrete steps, through the brown front door of the pink, adobe-brick house that has lived through a century of family, and head into my parents' house. She'll greet me with a smile from the kitchen or her sewing room, with her sing-song “Hel-low" and we’ll smile at each other. We'll gather around the kitchen island made from a wooden pub-height table, and I'll make my toast with butter and cinnamon sugar from a shaker that is older than I am. We'll laugh and talk about my drive and the goings on of life while I eat my sugary toast. 

After Thanksgiving dinner, with the whole family, people will retire to their napping places and  she and I will pull out a thousand-piece puzzle, decorate the house for Christmas, watch a musical, and maybe make cinnamon rolls. The small town she lives in has a holiday craft bazaar every weekend after Thanksgiving, and we’ll eventually make our way up there to see all the handmade goodies. Sometimes, when everyone is off to the farm but us two, I'll play the piano while she makes some treats. Eventually, she will stand behind me reminding me of all the little piano rules I have forgotten since I quit taking piano lessons from her in 1996. “Remember? That means crescendo, get louder and then there, that means to go soft again.” I’ll laugh and tell her to stop looking over my shoulder because she is making me mess up. 

Late fall and early winter at Utah Lake / THE JOY BLOG

Since her death, Thanksgiving has never felt right. It was our holiday. Not our holiday on purpose, but it always worked out that way. It was the time of year where we just spent days together hanging out, and enjoying every minute of it. Last year, I spent Thanksgiving in a Netflix fog at my in-laws' house -- it was my first holiday without her. This year, at the last minute, we have decided to try something different than the standard trekking to our hometowns and visiting both our families. We stayed home, bought some hefty ribeye steaks on sale for $5.00 a piece and will have a quiet night at our house, decorating the tree, and working a puzzle we bought the other night in memory of my mom. (Bonus: the deli at our local grocery store has cheap non-turkey meats during Thanksgiving!)

We went for a walk this morning on the Utah Lake walking path, bundled up in hats, coats and gloves. We talked all about our dreams, which is something we do often, and he helped me take my mind off the emptiness I now feel this time of year. I thought this year would be completely normal, I felt fine until last night. We passed out on the couch at 10:00 pm after watching a few episodes of Brooklyn Nine Nine, because I desperately needed to laugh, and woke up at 5:00 am, both still on the couch. Luckily, it is better than last year. I feel less depressed most of the time. It's a nice improvement. 

A blonde girl stands bundled up and smiling by a lake in the early winter. // THE JOY BLOG

I sit here, now, writing this, eating veggies off a veggie plate complete with black olives -- a signature dish of our Thanksgivings at her house.  Veggie plates just aren't complete without baby dill pickles and black olives. The kitchen is clean in preparation for our steak dinner tonight. Justin and the cats are all sleeping in opposite parts of the house, and I'm writing and listening to relaxing music. Our dinner tonight will be a low-key, candlelit meal on her fancy dishes that I've now inherited. We'll start our own traditions, and carry on some of hers, and life will go on. We'll celebrate more holidays with family, and we will laugh and have merriment.  It will always be obvious that she's not here anymore to celebrate with us, but they will still be awesome nonetheless. We have so much more life to live, she'd want that. 

+What types of memories of holidays gone by do you have this year? 
Please share in the comments.

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