I am late for an important date:
A date with gratitude and a date to blog.
Thanksgiving break carried my family and me on a train ride of illness, dealing with death, baking challenges and realizing what matters most.
The Christmas shopping season catches our attention with ringing Hersey kisses commercials and bright red and green colors. It is easy to forget the meaning of Thanksgiving. It is easier to see knock down prices on Black Friday weekend.
Remember, remember the season of thanks in November.
Charles Dickens wrote we should keep it in our hearts all year long. I believe the same theory goes for being thankful.
Three lessons reminded me why I am thankful.
Lesson 1: Health
My grandmother said, “Always be thankful for your health.” I heard a lecture voice at the age of sixteen. Turns out she was right.
Last Sunday, my family kicked off Thanksgiving by meeting my husband’s father and sister at a restaurant. My son—who suffered from a cold—dealt with a misunderstanding from the milk. He was not eating after he drank. Not long after, everything came up.
I cleaned him and let him play with a car. He sat next to me at the table. He tugged my shirt and whimpered. Charles—a very independent 2-year-old—rarely clings to me. Before I could figure out what was wrong, everything came up again.
Vomit covered our shirts and pants as we went to the bathroom. It was the one occasion for which I’d forgotten to pack extra clothes. I felt like a horrible mother, but I cleaned him up again.
As I came out of the bathroom, two teen girls stared at me. Years ago, I would’ve thought How did that woman let herself out of the house like that, or when I become a mother I will still care about my appearance.
The foul milk-smelling stains on my clothes transformed into something else. They were mommy battle scars. They were a reminder: Hey, Rebecca, you’re not all that. Any moment, something could change.
On the ride home, my husband and I dealt with Charles’ health. The next day we learned he had an ear infection, from which he is still recovering, and I became sick, too.
Good health should never be devalued.
Not all food or autumn decorations are beautiful.
Lesson 2: Baking does not Always go the Baker’s Way
No secret. I make cheesecakes. Since I made my first one, I’ve perfected the method as I have learned the steps and requirements of a good cake maker. Making cheesecake is different from other cakes. For one, you use a different pan.
You don’t want your cake to sink.
You want your cake to be moist, but not so moist if falls apart.
You don’t want cracks on the top.
An engineer tries to solve a car’s problems. I attempt to perfect my cheesecake methods.
One week ago, I made two cherry cheesecakes. One was a belated Veteran’s Day present for my father, and the other was my brother’s birthday present.
My father’s cake went untouched as every member of my family ate Thomas’ cake.
I did everything I did before to make my Thanksgiving strawberry cheesecake except I forgot the bit of flour. The next morning my cake began falling apart. It looked like earthquake cracks separating earth as I unhinged the ring in which the cake sat.
While my family watched the Macy’s Day Parade, the OCD and perfectionist personality came out. What do I do? I can’t take this.
Luckily, we had a back up. Dad’s cake was still fresh and untouched. We took it, and everything worked out.
Lesson 3: Inspiration for a Lifetime
Dad called early last week. An emotional man, he sobbed and left a message that his first cousin had died.
This particular cousin was not a far-off relative who we sent Christmas cards to every year. She was a sister to Dad. She was a connection to the town in which my book, Sons of the Edisto, takes place. She provided historical accounts. Dad’s cousin enlightened me about members of my family who have now passed.
When I talked to her during my research in Bamberg, SC; the cousin talked to me openly. She knew of my project. She was not afraid to tell me the Ku Klux Klan still paraded through the streets of Bamberg in 1948 after a World War in which 6 million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany.
The cousin understood my grandfather—her uncle—was a hero who did not have to state his opinion, but stood up to injustice through simple actions. Her memory is attached to his, and I am thankful for everything she did for my father. I am thankful for the information she provided.
Words and Photos By Rebecca T. Dickinson
In Memory of Becky.