Christmas turkey. Traditional festive food for Christmas or Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving is canceled this year. I am weary of this darned virus, and I’m sure I’m not alone. 

Traditions are important, and I find them even more so as I’ve gotten older. I shall miss my family’s holiday traditions this endless year of 2020.

Every year for the past 35 or 40 years, we have spent holidays with our daughter, son-in-law and their two girls. Sometimes we went to their home in Flagstaff when the girls were small. 

Sometimes they came to our house, where I cooked the turkey and made the pies (one pumpkin, one pecan). My daughter brought side dishes, and she whipped up feathery mashed potatoes while I made gravy.

What will she do for gravy this year? She hasn’t learned how to make it because that was my job. 

Will she have to buy the pies? She works long hours and doesn’t bake often.

My heart is sore.

In recent years, our daughter’s family moved to Tucson, so we started going to there for most holidays. 

Because they usually had to work on Fridays after Thanksgiving, we stayed the holiday weekend, which gave us more time to spend with them. I would make the pies in my daughter’s kitchen, and we enjoyed the chance to have quality time with all the family.

Our family gathering has grown with my son-in-law’s Tucson extended family and my granddaughter’s fiancé. 

Our single son moved in with us, so now he is a welcome part of our celebration. With a larger crowd at the table, I gave my daughter our big dining room table and all the long, linen tablecloths, some of which were my mother’s and some even older ones, hand monogrammed with the initial of my maiden name, from my grandmother. 

It’s good to pass on traditions.  

After I lost my husband three years ago, these brief gatherings became even more important to me. 

Though we had a missing chair at the table, it was heartwarming to be among loving family. 

We always gave thanks for the opportunity to be together, sharing stories around the table of times past, reminiscing about happy, funny and even sad events in our lives. 

It brought our family closer each time we got together. This year we shall have to give thanks separately.

Thanksgiving 2020 is canceled, and I shall miss it all.

So what is one to do? Do we just sit around and complain about what we are missing? I believe with all my heart that we can get through this cancellation of family holidays by holding on to the wonderful memories of years past.

 Remembering the joy of sharing our turkey dinners with loving family and friends. Thinking back to the times when they came home from college for the Thanksgiving holiday, glad to be home, if only for a short while. 

Recalling the many years of being together at holiday times, the treasured traditions and the love we share will make it bearable this year when Thanksgiving is canceled. 

Though my Thanksgiving is canceled, giving thanks is not. On Thursday, and every day, I shall give thanks to God for the many blessings in my life. 

Thanks to all the medical personnel who have given their devotion (and sometimes their lives) to those infected with COVID-19. 

Thanks to those who have developed vaccines which may stop this pandemic in its tracks. 

Thanks to those essential workers who have kept grocery stores, banks, pharmacies and the post office open.

Thanks to all of those in the military, past and present, who have kept our country safe. 

Thanks for all the electronic marvels that allow us to keep in touch with each other even when we are quarantined. 

Thanks that none of my immediate family has gotten sick. 

Thanks especially for the love that I receive from them and from my dear friends, even though I can’t give and receive their hugs in person.

Thanks that at my age as a very senior, senior citizen I can still think and do for myself. I have many blessings, and I am truly thankful for them this Thanksgiving. 


Marjorie Conder is the author of “‘Furriners’ in Appalachia.”