Thanksgiving will be different this year

It is going to be different this year.

“Keep family gatherings small,” seems to be the latest word from health officials everywhere.

“Okay,” I say to myself. “Small. I can do that.”

In my mind, I have already done my best to scale down the guest list which, in my heart, I know is the right thing to do.

And it will still be good.

Thanksgiving will still come in a tangle of gold and tangerine and blue.

I will haul out my best linen, the snowy white tablecloth that after years of use, is not quite as snowy as it used to be and put out the good silver, that is also not quite as shiny as it used to be.

And, as always, I will strive for perfection.

And, as always, I will not achieve it.

But I will be happy and grateful just because we are celebrating Thanksgiving in a delicious tangle of gold and tangerine and, hopefully, the sky overhead will be so blue it will hurt your eyes.

I like that backdrop.

As I hustle and bustle about getting ready for the big event, my mind goes back to another Thanksgiving.

Before COVID, way before COVID!

I was young, foolish and completely confident that I could successfully host a dinner party that would surpass all dinner parties.

And so, I pretty much invited my entire family tree. Aunts, uncles, cousins and, of course, my own siblings and my children, who were just babes at the time.

I look at a photo of that day, faded with time, and I smile.

There among a backdrop made magnificent by the Creator himself, are my Thanksgiving dinner guests. There were 32 in all; aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, kids and, of course, me, Queen of the House.

My meal was a complete flop. I burned the carrots beyond recognition. The turkey was overdone and dry. I do not remember much else about the meal. I do believe I have blocked it out.

But what I do remember, however, in the midst of all the chaos and turmoil and imperfection, hovering about like dust participles that get caught in the rays of sunshine that filter in through unsuspecting cracks and windows, is an indescribable feeling of joy.

And, I remember laughter, like music notes, playing tag with the crisp autumn air.

I remember singing into the wee hours of the morning with my siblings while the dishes lay piled up haphazardly all over the kitchen counter.

I sigh and put the picture away along with the memory.

This year, 2020, there certainly will not be 32 dinner guests at my Thanksgiving table.

But still there will be laughter. And, hopefully, in the midst of the quiet conversation and the meal that will, no doubt, be slightly less than perfect, there will be, hovering about like dust particles caught in the sunshine, a feeling of thankfulness and a feeling of joy.

We all know that is much more important than a six-foot-high meringue on the lemon pie and gravy that is curiously lump free.

But still it would be nice to have that feeling of joy spilling out onto a table groaning with food cooked to perfection.

For sure, I will try! Once again, I will try!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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