Last Thanksgiving

Last Thanksgiving my daughter was not in Paris. She was in my kitchen…

bikini turkey

“dressing” the turkey in a non-traditional way, with an aluminum foil bikini that when removed revealed “tan lines”,

sweet potatoes

treating us to new and delicious recipes,


quietly filling the place with her presence.


This young lady is the Mother of Thanksgiving as We Know It in my family.  When the kids were small we almost always celebrated Thanksgiving at home, just our little family.  This became our tradition after years of my in-laws keeping track of every holiday and visit spent with one side of the family or the other and then complaining about the scorecard. It ended up being easier and more enjoyable to defuse the annual fight by not going anywhere.

My Thanksgivings as a child were days of excitement filled with people, food and joy.  It didn’t occur to me that we were depriving our own children of the same loving celebrations until Thanksgiving 2001.

The phone began ringing in early November 2001.  My brothers and sisters called one by one to say they would be joining us for a Thanksgiving feast.  My initial reaction was, ‘Well, OK!  That sounds fun.’  But by the third or fourth call I began to question them.  What gave everyone the same idea this year?

My daughter in all her 3rd grade wisdom saw what I did not, that we were missing the fleeting opportunity to celebrate the goodness of life with people we love.  Unbeknownst to me, she had sent out a stack of handmade invitations and had successfully gathered aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma from the four corners.

The house was filled to overflowing that Thanksgiving Day. Dining tables were set in the family room, the kitchen, the living room and the dining room.  Story telling and laughter made the day fly.      My children experienced the kind of Thanksgiving that I knew in my own childhood.  Tradition was reborn that year because a little girl sent out a loving invitation and quietly waited for family to gather once more.


We will miss you, Sweetheart!  Prepare to Skype! And have a Happy Thanksgiving half way ’round the world.



About may

I am a married mother of three fabulous young adults. I have been married to one great guy for over a quarter of a century and hope we haven't reached the halfway point of our marriage yet. Writing helps me sort things out and allows me to avoid unsavory tasks that I probably should be doing. I've reached middle age in middle America and am anxious to see what comes next.
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14 Responses to Last Thanksgiving

  1. Sometimes those kids are way smarter than we are, aren’t they?

  2. What a great story! I had the same kind of holidays as a kid, and my inability to create the same for my own children has been a source of sadness. This year, though, we are traveling to spend the weekend with my parents and brother. It won’t be the kind of large celebration I had back when I was small, but after 5 years of no one but us it’s feeling like a tremendous gift.

  3. Tammy says:

    How wonderful! You have raised quite the young lady! She was so wise so young. It is wonderful that thanks to her ingenuity, your whole family was able to gather and share the love of the holiday.

    I want to dress my turkey, too!

    • may says:

      You should give it a try. It was lots of fun….looked a whole lot more like my own body in a swimsuit than I would like to admit!

  4. Barbara says:

    Okay – I am laughing out loud at the tan lines! Who but a young teen would think of that? Save her a chair at the table – even though she’ll virtually have to join you from Paris. What a sweet remembrance. Happy Thanksgiving May.

  5. What an industrious and smart third grader to send out those invitations on her own! When I was in third grade, I didn’t even know where my mom kept the address book!

  6. Kat says:

    Wow! That is so awesome!! I love your daughter!

  7. This is such a great story. I love Thanksgiving too. Wish I was a creative with food as your daughter. That turkey rocked the bikini. Who knew?

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