As quickly approaches, and as everyone updates their status to outline their Thanksgiving holiday plans, I cannot help but feel longing and sadness. It feels like so long ago that I was pulling all-nighters finishing the second set of midterms and preparing to take the train 5 hours north along the Hudson (How, I miss that time on the train!), back to Troy. It always marked the first time home since the start of the school year and that random trip home during the summer over co-op (crazy Drexel schedule). It was the light at the end of the “grueling Fall Term tunnel”. Thanksgiving meant falling leaves, chilly weather, the sweet smells of home, leftovers, love, relaxation and rejuvenation before finals in two weeks.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, much more so than Christmas. Thanksgiving was like a haven in the midst of the chaos of exams, endless calculations, never-ending experiments, and responsibility. Whenever I returned home I could revert back to my pre-semi-adult ways of spending the day in my pajamas, eating a home cooked breakfast and if I could get away with it, not doing my own dishes. (In retrospect, the responsibilities of college life are hardly the real thing.)
Even as my brothers and I grew older and grew apart in distance, it was the one holiday that we all still celebrated together. As my brothers moved away, Christmas became less of a family tradition and more of a hit or miss holiday. Even towards the end of high school, when my middle brother was still in college and my oldest brother was recently out of college, moved out, grown up, the magic of Christmas was lost. No one woke up early on Christmas morning, if they were even home at all. It soon became like any other day, but with presents (most of which I already knew of, because I picked them out). Tree decorating even seemed to become a chore. My dad lost interest; so cutting down the tree was left to my mom and me in recent years (although we did have many good times trying to cut down 8ft trees by ourselves, and stuffing it in the car). I can remember following my dad, trekking through the snow, knee deep, and still falling, in search of the perfect tree. In recent years there have been times when we didn’t get a tree until 2 days before Christmas Eve. I long for those times! Decorating used to be a family affair; with my dad putting on the lights, and my mom, me and brothers putting on the ornaments while eating fresh baked sugar cookies shaped like Santa, Rudolph, trees, and angels, while we sipped my dad’s infamous Eggnog, and the soft sounds of Christmas music playing in the background.
Thanksgiving still held onto its magic. Nothing had changed in the 24 years of my existence. I think there was only one year when things took a turn for the worst. My oldest brother, and now wife, said they could not make it. My mom and I were devastated. This would have been the first year that not all of us would be together. Yet, as we sat down to eat turkey, my moms amazing mashed potatoes, cranberry apple stuffing, sweet potato deliciousness, etc., my brother and his wife walked in, much to everyone’s surprise. What a relief that was, and a cruel joke! In the end, all was well.
I knew when I applied for the Peace Corps back in 2009 that I would miss important events-weddings, holidays, etc. but when that dream seemed so far away, so intangible, it didn’t really matter that I might potentially be missing out. Now that it is here, it kind of sucks. I think what makes it worse, is that not only am I not able to make it home for Thanksgiving this year, neither of my brothers will be able to make it either. This marks the first time in over 30 years that my mom will not be cooking Thanksgiving dinner. After so much work over the years, she’s probably a little relieved, but I know deep down that it breaks her heart too. In a matter of a short year, she went from having a full house on this momentous (who knew that monumentous isn’t a word?) holiday to no one. Of course she still has my grandparents and my uncle, but it’s “not the same without my kids.” They even contemplated going out to eat instead. Oh the blasphemy!
I am sad to be spending this Thanksgiving just like any other day of the year. I long to be 7 years old again when everything was easy as my mom’s/Mary’s apple pie.
In the spirit of a Pelletier Thanksgiving I will try to spread that warmth and love. At a time of thanks and giving: Thanks for being amazing Mom, Dad, Justin and Carmen, Coty, Gram and Pop, lastly, but far from least, Uncle Dave; I cant and wont even attempt to make my mom’s/Mary’s apple pie, instead I’m thinking of giving my neighbors some home made pumpkin muffins.