Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tofurkey Day

Thanksgiving is always a bittersweet time for me.

It was my grammy's favorite holiday. So much so that when she passed, she did so the day after Thanksgiving.

Fourteen years ago.

In a few years, the time since she has passed will become longer than the time that I knew her.

The year she died, she was in the hospital, in a coma after surgery. The entire family was in one place, for once, but nobody wanted to do anything for Thanksgiving dinner. I went with a friend to her boyfriend's house, to have dinner with his family. We spent the night on the floor of her father's video store, and in the morning, we drove out to a Burger King on the outskirts of somewhere in search of Nightmare Before Christmas watches. Because it was outside the city limits, there was a smoking section. Unusual to us, who were used to being in the city. We talked and laughed and smoked and ate chicken sandwiches.

Even then, Thanksgiving wasn't right. This wasn't how it worked. We had dinner with grammy. Always the same menu, always the same recipes. Even the year grammy made pizza - from scratch. Always the Marie Cellendar's pies. Always the gravy flour in the can, because regular flour wouldn't do. Always the fruit salad and I have no idea how she did it before with the mayonnaise, before someone suggested she just use whipped cream. Always the olives and the gherkins and the Ruffles and onion dip. Always the just-right stuffing with no nuts or olives or clams.

Thanksgiving has always been hard for me. It's never been right. The last couple of years, we've done dinner for ourselves, mostly, and that's a little better. I can make the menu and cook the food and everything but the nasty stuffing that comes in the Tofurkey is just the way it's supposed to be. And the pies. Not since grammy died have I had the correct pies.

But it's still not the same. And I know I have to get right with that, in my head, that this is now. It's time for new traditions. I know.

But I miss her, dammit. And this is the hardest time of year for that.

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