Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year; a day devoted not to giving and receiving gifts, but giving and receiving time – the greatest, and maybe most underrated, gift of all. The fourth Thursday in November provides us time that can be hard to come by throughout the year. It brings us together with the people we love most to do things purely for enjoyment.
In my family, the holiday officially begins when school ends and family starts to arrive from out of town. Everyone makes sure to get to grandma's house by Wednesday, or as we call it, Dressing Day. We plan our travel or take off work early to get together to prepare our family's traditional dressing recipe.
Our family is small, and it takes all of us to pull it off. Growing up, we learned our knife skills chopping celery and onions, and practiced our measurements by adding the spices and broth. As we grew, we graduated to baking the biscuits and cornbread and sauteing the vegetables, both of which my grandma still insists may be too dangerous for us grandkids.
This year was my first to attempt to make the dressing by myself. An office celebration seemed like the perfect opportunity to put years of practice to the test. Unsupervised, I did forget one step in the family biscuit recipe and burned myself taking them out of the oven...guess Grandma was right about that one.
Doing it alone made me miss my youngest cousin, who for years has volunteered to dice the onions, saving us all from teary eyes and the dreaded, “onion hands.”
Now in her second year of college, I had to settle for texting her as I spent Sunday afternoon alone in my kitchen, practicing skills that our grandmother has drilled into us all since we could hold a butter knife.
In January, she will become an aunt, her nephew taking my son's place as the baby of the family. That same month, my son will become a teenager. This year has brought many changes, and next year promises many more.
But as I went through the motions of preparing the dressing, I realized that while change is inevitable, traditions remain constant.
Our family will continue to meet on Dressing Day, delegating tasks and working as a team to create something we all love. On Thanksgiving, we will uphold our late grandfather's traditions of TV watching, starting with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, followed by the National Dog Show, and ending with the football game playing on mute in the background during dinner to annoy our grandmother.
No matter what you do on Thanksgiving, do it with love. Give of your time and let others give their time to you. It truly is the greatest gift of all, and something to be treasured forever.