My Family

Happy Thanksgiving!

Good morning, and Happy Thanksgiving to you!

In a little while I’ll head into the kitchen and start doing something food-related – either for today’s big meal or for my mom’s birthday dinner and dessert tomorrow. Feels like I left a lot til the last minute…but I also know it will all get done, so I’m not worried about it.

…what to write…it’s a bittersweet holiday this year. Always is – any gathering of family reminds you of those who used to gather with you and are no longer there…but this is particularly emotionally charged because of my husband’s mother’s passing a year ago. Date-wise, it was on this, the 27th of November. But it’s more of a day-before-Thanksgiving memory, really, and so even though the date may slide around the days of the week, I think we will remember it mostly on a Wednesday.

…and I’m not going to (as I’d expected to) make this a kind of “in memory of” piece about my late mother-in-law. I will talk more about her as the cookie-baking continues in the weeks to come. I think it’s more fitting. She was not, to my knowledge, ever one to sit and wallow in anything. She did. The day before her death she was out raking up leaves in her back yard – because it was just not in her terribly independent nature to wait for help. She had sons and grandsons who could have, and would have, raked the leaves that coming Thanksgiving weekend – but it would not have occurred to her to ask for help. So she raked.

So I will just say, on this early Thanksgiving morning, before I go putter in the kitchen, or set the table with the set of china she had bought for my husband long before it ever even crossed his mind to marry anyone, that among all the many things I have to be thankful for, I am so thankful for the five years I had to get to know my mother-in-law.

I am grateful to have had a mother-in-law so unlike the stereotypical “no one’s good enough for my son” kind of experience, or any of the other not-so-great in-law relationships I’ve heard about.

And I am grateful to have gotten to know Elsa, the person. She welcomed me immediately, and we could sit and talk easily almost from the start, in her living room, or most often there at her kitchen table, looking out on the back yard and her legendary vegetable and flower gardens, and her beloved (and mostly squirrel-proof) bird feeders….

I am grateful for the stories she told me about my husband when he was a little boy…and for the stories she told me about herself as a young girl…

On my birthday the year after Bill and I started dating, she gave me a flat of pansies. As roses symbolize various kinds of love, pansies are for friendship.

And I am so thankful to have had her for a friend.

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