We’ll fully celebrate Thanksgiving this year

Thanksgiving is the official kickoff of the holiday season, and a loved tradition we all look forward to in our home.

The delicious aroma of roasting turkey and bubbling gravy ignites a flurry of warm memories from Thanksgivings past – still so vivid in my mind today. Like a beloved old movie, I replay the moments over and over again in crystal clear Kodachrome vision. The happy chatter of adults reminiscing and children scattering underfoot, laughter from the kitchen, football in the living room, mimosas in our cups and apple pie tempting us from the counter. Perhaps one of the happiest days of the entire year. Some things never change.

Most days fleet in a superfluous hurry – compounded by the pressures of work, family, sports, volunteering and simply keeping up with the Joneses. But not Thanksgiving.

This one special day carries with it the magical gift of slow motion. Maybe it’s all those uncounted yet consumed calories, or the simple fact that we have no other commitments that day.

Imagine the exquisite joy we would experience if Thanksgiving came more often. But the reality is we appreciate it so much because it is fleeting and unique; the anticipation only feeds into the excitement. The thought of Thanksgiving transforms snow flurries and cold, shorter days into something a bit more manageable.

When we consider the historical aspects of Thanksgiving, we usually think of the highly publicized, yet poorly documented first gathering at Plymouth Rock in 1621. This is when American Indians and early settlers came together to share a meal and to foster friendship and trust.

There is much more to the actual history. This special day is a time for deep rooted reflection, focused on giving thanks for the harvest and all the blessings of the previous year. It signifies reformation as well, dating back to 1536 when Catholics fought to consolidate the overwhelming number of early religious holidays into streamlined days of fasting and days of Thanksgiving.

Both the Puritans and the Protestants carried that tradition of observing days of fasting and Thanksgiving with them to New England, influenced in part by their annual observation of the services of Thanksgiving for the relief of the siege of Leiden in 1574, and their joyous celebration of bountiful annual harvests in the New England.

It was George Washington, who during his tenure as president of the United States, officially named Thanksgiving a national holiday on Nov. 26, 1789, when he declared it “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”

A more recent, yet charming part of the tradition of Thanksgiving is the proclamation of the acting U.S. president when he “pardons” one special turkey each year, ensuring the lucky bird will spend the rest of its life aimlessly roaming protected farmland.

Just recently, “Free Birds,” a comedy that traces the life of a pardoned turkey and chronicles his desperate attempt to go back in time to take turkey off the very first Thanksgiving menu, hit theaters. The reviews are less than stellar, and I could not personally imagine a Thanksgiving celebration without the flavorful aroma of a roasting bird. Although our own celebration of Thanksgiving has morphed dramatically since suffering the loss of our beloved daughter, the presence of turkey has always remained.

It has however, been a very long time since we have hosted Thanksgiving in our home.

The first three years after losing Jaiden, we simply could not bear the thought of gathering together without her. We volunteered at our church instead, delivering and serving meals to those in need. When our church cancelled this practice, we panicked but survived.

That first year with no charitable work to keep us busy – we cooked a small turkey at home with just our children, and then later joined the extended family for dessert.

The next year, 2012, we pushed ourselves a bit further. It was our first attempt to celebrate with the entire, extended family. We faced the day with glassy eyes and heavy hearts, yet somehow we managed to survive. In fact, it finally felt like Thanksgiving for the first time since 2007.

At the end of the day last year, my 90-year-old great-aunt hugged me tightly, with silent tears running down her face, and whispered into my ear, “You are finally back.” It was then I knew. I was ready to face this most amazing and magical holiday in our own home, in the long loved tradition instilled into me as a child, and that we as a family strove to foster into Jaiden and all of our other children.

So tomorrow I will be roasting a great turkey. Indeed, it will be an exquisite one, farm raised and nearly 30 pounds. Guests will arrive with children and dishes in tow, intent on both reliving treasured old memories and creating amazing new ones.

Our home will be filled with the chatter and clamor of 25 living souls and the endearing presence of one very loved and never forgotten angel.

We’ll fully celebrate Thanksgiving this year

Thanksgiving is the official kickoff of the holiday season, and a loved tradition we all look forward to in our home.

The delicious aroma of roasting turkey and bubbling gravy ignites a flurry of warm memories from Thanksgivings past – still so vivid in my mind today. Like a beloved old movie, I replay the moments over and over again in crystal clear Kodachrome vision. The happy chatter of adults reminiscing and children scattering underfoot, laughter from the kitchen, football in the living room, mimosas in our cups and apple pie tempting us from the counter. Perhaps one of the happiest days of the entire year. Some things never change.

Most days fleet in a superfluous hurry – compounded by the pressures of work, family, sports, volunteering and simply keeping up with the Jones. But not Thanksgiving. This one special day carries with it the magical gift of slow motion. Maybe it’s all those uncounted yet consumed calories, or the simple fact that we have no other commitments that day. Imagine the exquisite joy we would experience if Thanksgiving came more often. But the reality is we appreciate it so much because it is fleeting and unique; the anticipation only feeds into the excitement. The thought of Thanksgiving transforms snow flurries and cold, shorter days into something a bit more manageable.

When we consider the historical aspects of Thanksgiving, we usually think of the highly publicized, yet poorly documented first gathering at Plymouth Rock in 1621. This is when American Indians and early settlers came together to share a meal and to foster friendship and trust. There is much more to the actual history. This special day is a time for deep rooted reflection, focused on giving thanks for the harvest and all the blessings of the previous year. It signifies reformation as well, dating back to 1536 when Catholics fought to consolidate the overwhelming number of early religious holidays into streamlined days of fasting and days of Thanksgiving.

Both the Puritans and the Protestants carried that tradition of observing days of fasting and Thanksgiving with them to New England, influenced in part by their annual observation of the services of Thanksgiving for the relief of the siege of Leiden in 1574, and their joyous celebration of bountiful annual Harvests in the New England. It was George Washington, who during his tenure as president of the United States, officially named Thanksgiving a national holiday on Nov. 26, 1789, when he declared it “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”

A more recent, yet charming part of the tradition of Thanksgiving is the proclamation of the acting U.S. resident when he “pardons” one special turkey each year, ensuring the lucky bird will spend the rest of its life aimlessly roaming protected farmland.

Just recently, “Free Birds,” a comedy that traces the life of a pardoned turkey and chronicles his desperate attempt to go back in time to take turkey off the very first Thanksgiving menu, hit theaters. The reviews are less than stellar, and I could not personally imagine a Thanksgiving celebration without the flavorful aroma of a roasting bird! Although our own celebration of Thanksgiving has morphed dramatically since suffering the loss of our beloved daughter, the presence of turkey has always remained.

It has however, been a very long time since we have hosted Thanksgiving in our home. The first three years after losing Jaiden, we simply could not bear the thought of gathering together without her. We volunteered at our church instead, delivering and serving meals to those in need. When our church cancelled this practice, we panicked but survived. That first year with no charitable work to keep us busy – we cooked a small turkey at home with just our children, and then later joined the extended family for dessert. The next year, 2012, we pushed ourselves a bit further. It was our first attempt to celebrate with the entire, extended family. We faced the day with glassy eyes and heavy hearts, yet somehow we managed to survive. In fact, it finally felt like Thanksgiving for the first time since 2007.

At the end of the day last year, my 90-year-old great-aunt hugged me tightly, with silent tears running down her face, and whispered into my ear, “You are finally back.” It was then I knew. I was ready to face this most amazing and magical holiday in our own home, in the long loved tradition instilled into me as a child, and that we as a family strove to foster into Jaiden and all of our other children.

So tomorrow I will be roasting a great turkey. Indeed, it will be an exquisite one, farm raised and nearly 30 pounds. Guests will arrive with children and dishes in tow, intent on both reliving treasured old memories and creating amazing new ones.

Our home will be filled with the chatter and clamor of 25 living souls and the endearing presence of one very loved and never forgotten angel.