I have so so much to be grateful for. A roof over my head. A loving, attentive, thoughtful husband. Two beautiful daughters. And a son I haven't met yet. Great parents, and parents-in-law (is that the right way to phrase that??). I'm grateful for my country, and my freedom. And clean running water. Seriously every time I watch some documentary or something about third world countries I'm always left with this insane gratitude for clean drinking water from my sink. And the ability to take a hot shower pretty much whenever I want. THAT is something to be grateful for.
But I've had a heavy heart the past couple of days. Because, despite all that I have, there is one piece missing that just seems to be blaring at me this time of year. My Poppy. I miss him. Last year I didn't feel the weight of missing him as much as I do this year. Maybe it is pregnancy hormones. As I prepared Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever this year, I could feel him beside him. All these memories of "helping" him as a child came flooding back. Thanksgiving to me, will always be Poppy's holiday. Every year he'd be in a shirt and tie. And an apron, because he'd be cooking. The master of the gravy. Bickering at Nanny for forgetting something or not doing something the way he would have done it. As I peeled potatoes this afternoon, I remembered sitting with him at the kitchen table peeling potatoes. I could hear him telling me about he peeled potatoes in the Navy. How he got to be so good at only getting the skin off, and not any potato with it. I loved those moments. Talking with him. Feeling like I was helping... when now as an adult, I realize he probably could have done it all a lot faster and easier without me there. But he took time to explain things to me. Showed me how to fry sweet potatoes. How to stir the gravy... and add his secret ingredient... the juice from a can of peas. He'd tease me about the amount of food I ate while I "helped" cook. He always cut me a piece of skin from the turkey as soon as it was out of the oven. I cried a few tears today wishing he could see me now. A grown up, with my own kids running around, wanting to help me cook. I wished he could have tried my gravy. But, I know he was watching. I could almost hear him in my head all day today. Correcting me as I went about my cooking. Teasing me for the amount of food I was "testing" as I was cooking.
Today I did things differently than he would have done them. I used a bag to cook my turkey. I made the gravy from scratch, and I only added a drop of pea juice, more as homage to Poppy than for flavor. I made a corn casserole, not just regular corn. I even made my own cranberry sauce. I think he would have liked it. But there was one thing I didn't change a bit. Canned peas. Poppy loved canned peas. I can not see a can of peas without thinking of him. Of all the food served on Thanksgiving, that can of peas will always remind me of Poppy.
I'm rambling now, and this has gotten long... but I'm just so grateful for the example Poppy was to me. I don't think I would be the person I am today if it wasn't for Poppy. As Olivia helped me prep the turkey today, all I could think of was being her size and helping Poppy cook. When she started to get in the way, and it would have been easier to send her away so I could get more done, I thought of those moments with Poppy. I thought how much more important those memories are than getting the turkey in the oven on time. For reminders like that, I'll always be sure to have canned peas on Thanksgiving.