Grief is an ocean you drain one cupful at a time.
Thanksgiving was the Old Woman's favorite holiday. No gifts were required. No buckets of candy. No elaborate decorations. It is simply a time to gather the family for a huge meal. The whole event is sharing a table. Even if you don't have pockets full of money, you can pull off a potluck meal with friends and family and neighbors and still feel rich in your bounty.
Several years ago, as age was starting to catch up with the Old Woman, she started insisting that I stop coming home for Thanksgiving. She wanted to force me to create my own holiday traditions in my own home. She knew a day was coming when she wouldn't be here, a time when I wouldn't have a "home" to travel to on holidays. She was wise. If this were the first holiday I'd not spent with her, I'd be a blubbering mess. (Those are not tears as I type this . . . I chopped an onion about an hour ago.)
I have a mental list of the "stuff" I want from her home. Two are items associated with Thanksgiving. The first, (if they aren't claimed first by the rightful child to claim them) are two little, dusty, faded, turkey shaped candles. The Old Woman's number 3 son was a small child (he is now in his 60s), found them in the store and asked if they could buy them. They cost 15 cents, together. But, still, the days of living on the farm were so tight that the Old Woman didn't have the pennies to spare. Her son dug into his pockets and proudly announced that he had 15 cents, and could buy them. They have been on the Old Woman's Thanksgiving table every single year since. The second is some or all of a set of mismatched glasses. They were collected one-by-one over the course of years, using stamps from the grocery store. They are cut glass and a variety of colors and shapes. Some are pretty, like a pink, cut glass wine goblet and some aren't so pretty like the swirled red/brown glass. But, the only time we ever used them were for special meals. In fact, a meal could be made special by their appearance on the table. If nothing else, I want the purple one. It was always my glass.
This year, I'm making a pot of gumbo. I have invited a friend and her mother over, after I learned their holiday plan fell through. And, I expect there will be a few more, er, um, chopped onions.