Celebrating The Past On Thanksgiving Day

Be thankful quote, sunset
Quote by Pablo, photo by Ms. Phoenix,, cc.


My daughter’s eight-day visit is over. Mother’s and daughters, there’s something special about that relationship. I wonder if it’s because mother’s see a reflection of themselves in their daughter’s mannerisms for a fleeting moment. And when your kids are on their own and live in another state, every moment with them is fleeting.

The drive to LAX via the dreaded 405 freeway was so ‘unbusy’ it was like driving on another freeway in another century. Then again, many people had today off and it was 6:30 in the morning. Going back to Denver is always bittersweet for my daughter. We talk about who she got to visit, if her cat is mad at her, and wondering if it’s possible to transfer her job closer to home in California. We talk about plans for the next year, relationships, and her future.

We had fun attending the Guillermo Del Toro exhibit at LACMA. His movies are a little macabre for me (Pan’s Labrinyth, Chronos, Blade II …,) but I was willing to sacrifice my personal opinion to spend more time with my daughter. Plus, I got to see several Picasso’s at the museum. Shopping, getting Mani/Pedi’s, a haircut, and visiting with friends and relatives rounded out her visit.
Guillermo Del Toro exhibit-LACMA, Los Angeles, CA
Guillermo Del Toro exhibit-LACMA, Los Angeles, CA

Twenty of us gathered for Thanksgiving with my sister and brother-in-law. We ate almost three hours later than intended, but that will be a memory for another turkey day.

We had deep fried turkey, baked ham, and all the other fixings. My vegan son brought his own ‘turkey’ roast, gravy, rolls and pumpkin pie. Seven relatives ventured a taste of this non-meat roast and all of them gave the vegan food a thumbs up.

My sister asked me to say a prayer. I thought about that request and came up with a reflection instead:

There was a time when Thanksgiving dinner was a chicken meal, when the stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes showed up in a cardboard box on our back porch. There were no leftovers in those years but for the compassion of others, we are thankful.

Each Thanksgiving our turkey grew in size, along with the number of aunts, uncles, and cousins who shared meals with us. The size of our table expanded and we had enough to share. For our family we are thankful.

Time runs, leaving memories in its dust. Along the way, we lost loved ones, but our recollection of them is with us in our kitchens and tables as we celebrate. For those who went before us, we are thankful.

Remember the last 365 days. The days that we struggled and the days when we laughed with joy. The difficult days and the days we never wanted to end. Remember the times when someone gave us an encouraging word, a hug, or prayed for us, for it’s in those days that we learned to keep going, to keep hoping, to have faith. For the gift of love and support, we are thankful.

And now we get together here, with our mother, brother, and sisters, nieces and nephews, in-laws, friends, grandkids, and great-grandkids, still together, after all of these years sharing a Thanksgiving meal together.

And for this, let us be thankful.

A few of the grandchildren remarked “Chicken?”

Which led to the stories about when we were children and being the recipient of charity boxes on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And these stories led to other stories of post-dinner basketball games when we were young mothers and fathers. We left the table heavy with food and full of good memories.

And for that, I am thankful.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. 

Family, Parenting

My Son’s Gift On His Birthday

toddler with pinata
Piñata, photo by Marina Montoya,


Birds chirped, the fountain dripped and a gardener’s blower punctuated my thoughts.The morning began with wistful moments.

Today is my son’s birthday. A rush of memories swept across my mind’s eye. A baby with his first piñata, a toddler with a potty chair, a new backpack for Kindergarten…

Could it be 30 years? When did he turn 25, 20, or 10 years old?

Did I really go from anxious mother in my ninth month of pregnancy through childhood, up and over the teen years to my son’s adulthood? So soon?

I remember hoarding baby books in preparation for his birth. Post-it notes and highlighter pen colored pages of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

I worked in Whitter, CA commuting from Burbank on treacherous Los Angeles freeways. When I was in my third month my car was rear-ended on Highway 134. An ambulance came when I said I was pregnant.

In my fourth month, I began spotting. My secretary, a mom, took care of me. I was scared to death I might lose a child who I was just beginning to feel deep inside.

I remember the high school track where my husband took me to get exercise, mainly because he gained as much weight as I had by my sixth month.

Once, I saw myself in a full-length mirror during my eight month. In profile. I wore my favorite pink sweatsuit, which was white on the chest and stomach area. “I look like a fat pink kangaroo,” I cried.

We told bits and pieces of these stories to my son on his birthday never leaving out the hospital run. My husband’s old silver Camaro roared down Highway 134 with me clutching the bucket seats, in fear of the excessive speed and the pain of the cramps. Turned out the cramps were Braxton Hicks. He drove slower the next time we went to the hospital, both of us thinking of another false alarm. It wasn’t.

I told my son about the 21 hours of labor and my move from the cool mama birthing room to a cold steel gurney for an emergency C-Section. “All those breathing classes,” my husband said.

Baby, photo by Howard Ignatius,
Baby. Photo by Howard Ignatius,

His dad told him the ‘hospital story,’ when I wouldn’t leave him after they released me but not him because of jaundice.

“They sent in nurses, a social worker, the doctor, and finally a priest.”

“I wouldn’t budge,” I’d say.

The hospital staff gave in to me saying I’d be responsible for bringing him in three times a day for his Bilirubin counts. We did. The stubbornness of new mothers.

I remember the touch of my son’s silky baby fingers on my face; a blink of recognition from his eyes when he turned to my voice. First words, first everything.

Parents. We remember a toddler’s triumphs on the potty or their discovery of new things. And everything was new.

We remember the stick figure drawings they first gave to us, turkey hands at Thanksgiving, and homemade Christmas decorations from school.

We recall the angst, pimples, broken hearts and we felt life right alongside them. Sometimes.

And then, somehow, when you’re not ready, the years roll by with so many firsts, challenges, and heartaches.

We know we can’t protect our children from everything life will bring, but we pray or hope or nag them thinking we can. We hope they’ll turn to us when life gets hard and they need a listening ear.

The pages of their book, your book too, keep turning.

Sometime today, I will shed a tear (I already am, of course) remembering the gift my son gave me on his birthday.