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This mami isn’t cooking on Thanksgiving

Yes, I know that as the matriarch of my clan I am expected to do SOME type of cooking. I can cook, and I have most years. But this year, Thanksgiving falls on my birthday. It happens every few years. As you may imagine I have had many a turkey birthday cake in my soon to be 42 years. I don’t mind. I see it as a blessing, because I’m always surrounded by loved ones and enjoy family and friends getting together.

So my gift to myself this birthday is no cooking. Not even my delicious cranberry stuffing or my uh-mazing frijoles negros. This year we ordered our meal and will bring to it my son and daughter-in-law’s home to enjoy a wonderful day of spending time together and having fun. The men will disappear for a while to play video games and the ladies will chat without being stressed or exhausted. We will talk, play board games and do whatever else we feel like doing. I will even have plenty of time to make my calls to family and friends.

It may not be a fancy holiday event, but I’ve had, been to and hosted many a fancy event. And I will continue to do so for years to come. But once in a while, it’s refreshing to just enjoy each other and the day. Heck, we may even use paper plates to avoid too much clean up.

Instead of spending the day cooking as of 4am, I will wake up at my usual 5:30 am and enjoy my daily 5 mile jog without feeling rushed or frazzled. I will reflect on the day ahead and remember to live in gratitude. I will have my daily chat with my dear brother who left us this February. It’s still painful to talk or write about, but it is a reality in my life and I’m just trying to figure out how to live with it and honor him the best way I can. I will think about business and recap my week and think about my goals for the rest of Q4. Then I’ll listen to some podcasts and head home for a shower and wake everyone up with coffee and a smile.

I do enjoy cooking for the holidays, but I also get very stressed, as does everyone who cooks and plans for any party or gathering. There is a reason that every magazine and many blogs feature articles about ways you can avoid the holiday stress. I also know that cooking and gathering while you do so is part of the fun of the holidays. It’s really up to you what you decide to do. It’s perfectly fine to purchase a great meal from your local grocer, as most offer a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the sides where you can pick it up fully cooked and simply warm it in the oven. We’ve done it a couple of times and have always enjoyed it.

If you want to give yourself the gift of less stress and more enjoyment, then call up your grocer or visit the deli and see what they have. You can even do what I have done at times, which is to order the meal and then cook a few sides that you really enjoy cooking and the family always requests.

Losing my brother has been a difficult reminder that life is not the fancy plates or the perfectly roasted turkey or pig. It’s the jokes and the laughter. It’s the father dancing with his daughter to salsa music or the boys running around ruining their holiday outfits. It’s the dog being overfed scraps by well meaning visitors. It’s the grandma getting tipsy and giggling too much. It’s making memories that you will recount and cherish for years to come.

I will be spending my time making memories and remembering the ones tucked away in my heart, especially those with my brother. Whatever you choose to do, I wish everyone a peaceful holiday and that you make many lovely memories.

11 Responses

  1. We had a death in my husband’s family and then his father had surgery. It was decided that no one is doing anything for Thanksgiving together. I was raised in the South and now live away from my family in the Pacific Northwest. I get emotional with the holidays since I have no family and heavy hearted about going with traditions. I applaud you for taking your day and just relaxing with the family. It’s not about the turkey and dressing (well, I want to be supportive – but I want it!), it’s about being together with friends and family that you love and showing gratitude. Happy Birthday Turkey!

  2. Having a loss in the family can certainly dampen the holidays. We lost my sister this year, and this holiday season is already starting to look bleak, but I agree with what you say. Life isn’t about fancy dinners but making memories. I don’t know if we’ll have Thanksgiving dinner this year, but we’ll make sure to put gratitude in our hearts. Being alive is truly something to be grateful for. Happy birthday and happy Thanksgiving!

  3. On this Thanksgiving I’m just doing some side dishes but nothing too complicated. I love to cook but I do it everyday, all the meals for the family so this coming holiday I will just enjoy the menu although it’s a traditional American dinner and not what I was used to eat.

  4. Danay I totally think you should get to have a break to enjoy your birthday without the stress of prepping and cooking for the holidays. I mean, you should have some time to do your 5 mile jog and really enjoy being you. I’m so sorry about you losing your brother but I love that you get to reflect on the memory of him and make new memories with your family over the holiday. Definitely take time for yourself, but…um… who’s gonna make your cranberry sauce??? And the frijoles negros?!? I’m not saying you have to make everything but Danay don’t deny your family the beans!!!! LOL kidding, but kind not =]

    Hope you have a great birthday <3 <3 <3

    1. I think they will survive with the cranberry sauce the deli makes for us. As for the frijoles, I’ll deal with the therapy bills later 😉 Thank you for the birthday wishes and have a blessed holiday Danielle!

  5. I agree, it’s so much more about the memories than about standing in the kitchen the whole day, and missing cout precious moments together. Congratulations on your coming 42nd birthday. Some of the best years……

  6. Thanks for this raw writing about Thanksgiving holidays, I cannot agree enough that holidays is not just for fancy meals and who cook and being frazzled, it is the memories and happy times with the family that counts. It is very hard when you lose your family members but Thanksgiving serves a perfect time for you and your family honor him and talk to him. Glad you have made great memories and wish you will make more beautiful memories for you to cherish for lifetime.

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