Thanksgiving used to be one of my favorite holidays. Growing up, it was made of rooms filled with love, family members, and a “dining” area of wondrous smells accompanied by my great-grandmother’s voice shouting demands from the kitchen. The men in my family would be huddled around the television awaiting their favorite football teams’ eruption onto their respective home fields. Thanksgiving was not only a time for good company and good vibes; it was our way of expressing through “soul” food. I can remember sinking my teeth into savory turkey and gravy, green beans, chicken, collard greens, buttery rolls, and sweet potato pie. To me, at the age of ten, my family was my world. I lived for every Sunday afternoon just to be able to eat dinner and congregate among the people I admired. My great-grandmother was adamant about our family getting together after church to share our love of food, connections, and conversation. This was her role; the matriarch, the woman who held us together like superglue. In May of 2000, just a month shy of my younger cousin’s high school graduation, my great-grandmother died. She was eighty-two years young (and I do not use the term “young” loosely here). Her soul was kindred to mine, thusly a great piece of me died along with her.
To say my family has not been the same since her death would be an understatement; we have fallen out of connection with each other and this plagues me. We all have grown tremendously in age and in actions. Not only have some of us moved from the city in which most of our family dinners took place, our roles in life require more responsibility than it did in the past. As a result, Thanksgiving dinner is not what it used to be. To get everyone together in one spot for one major event now is like pulling teeth or stopping a train when it only took a phone call as a reminder from the matriarch. This year, I wanted to put myself in the role of Thanksgiving dinner hostess. I set out to make this happen in late September with emails, phone calls, and letters. Late last year, this was heavy on my mind, so I am planning what I hope to be one of the best dinners with my family that I have experienced since 1996.
I am in the process of compiling a list of attendees so that I can prepare myself for that big day when it arrives. I want to make sure my house is in order and ready to shelter 4-6 people (others will reserve a hotel room for the short stay) for at least 2 days. The menu is one of a traditional feel with many of the delectable items my family and I are accustomed to eating: collard greens, fried chicken, rice & gravy, potato salad, dinner rolls, and sweet potato pie. I am eager to host this event and am proud to say that my brothers (a total of 3 attending) and mother were the first to let me know that no matter what, they will be here. The excitement of the impending date is one I simply cannot contain. I want this to be perfect, but I will definitely settle for “just right.” This Thanksgiving, I am trying to get my family back.