Don’t forget to give thanks this year

Helena Rodriguez

The malls are decked with boughs of holly and Christmas spirit is in the air — and it ain’t even Thanksgiving yet.
Regardless of what retailers think, the Christmas season doesn’t begin until the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as “the biggest shopping day of the year.”
As we hectically prepare to gobble turkey in less than a week and watch the Dallas Cowboys battle for the pigskin — please don’t disappoint Dad this year — try not to get caught up in the commercial frenzy and forget to give thanks. It’s not too early to start tallying up your blessings.
It can be easy to forget to give thanks, especially when you’re fighting crowds at the grocery store, cleaning house, planning a huge feast or traveling.
Having high expectations for any holiday can wear you down and ruin everything, as any self-help expert will tell you. But year after year I see it: people bumping carts at grocery stores and complaining about having to spend a whole day over a hot stove. I think holiday celebrations should be memorable and festive, but shouldn’t kill you in the process.
A friend told me about a woman who spent an entire day cooking an elaborate meal for herself, her husband and son. It was ridiculous, the number of meat entrees, trimmings and desserts the woman prepared for only three people. Meanwhile, her family spent the better part of the day just waiting for her to finish. I don’t know whether they offered to help her or not, but either way, I don’t envision that as Thanksgiving.
While I’m not ready to throw in the towel and go out to eat Thanksgiving dinner, I believe we must have reasonable expectations. I’ve learned that the hard way. Things change and sometimes our traditions have to as well.
At my parent’s home, we have a system. Dad, being the professional baker that he is, makes his famous homemade pumpkin pies and banana nut bread and carves the turkey, which he helps Mom prepare. Mom makes the stuffing and gravy and the gotta-have-it green chile. My sisters usually make the mashed potatoes, salads, desserts and that gross looking green bean casserole that has somehow landed on our Thanksgiving table year after year.
I usually make my famous mini cheesecakes, banana pudding and do other assigned duties, but mostly I stand around and look busy or wash dishes as they become dirty. And on the day after Thanksgiving, we get back together to make green chile turkey enchiladas, which are to die for.
I have started thinking about what Thanksgiving will be like in a few years. Mom’s eyesight is worsening and I imagine my immediate family will eventually break down into our own little families. I’ve been so dependent on Mom and Dad and my sisters. I may just wake up one Thanksgiving and suddenly find it’s up to me to plan and cook a Thanksgiving meal.
Time to head to Furr’s Cafeteria.
I can’t see myself standing over a hot stove all day. But then I think of Mom and Dad waking up at the crack of dawn every Thanksgiving. I’m sure out of love for us, or out of love for good roasted turkey — and cooking.
I feel like telling them sometimes, we can do without the ham and definitely without the green bean casserole, but not the banana pudding. That would be unthinkable. One Thanksgiving, my sister, Becky, was in the hospital with appendicitis and couldn’t eat. All she wanted was for us to save her some banana pudding.
Who knows? When it comes my time, maybe I’ll be moved with the same love and patience to prepare a huge Thanksgiving meal for my family. Or maybe I’ll decide to let a few details go so I can sit down, relax with them and give thanks. I guess that’s a bridge I’ll cross when I get there. Happy Thanksgiving!