CCC # 4 – Thankful

Hi, YNS Friends –

Happy November! This is one of my favorite times of the year: the calm before the hustle & bustle of the holiday season; the anticipation of good things to come, without the pressure of needing to get things done yet. Next week, we in the U.S. will be celebrating Thanksgiving.

To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t have a plethora of Thanksgiving traditions. I’ve tried a few times to start some; inviting extended family and friends, setting the table with the good china, serving the traditional dinner of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc., going around the table and having each person tell one thing they’re grateful for, and so on. All that Norman Rockwell stuff.

None of those traditions I tried on for size ever fit. On those occasions when I attempted to implement the formula for an all-American Thanksgiving, I always felt a bit like a phony; like I was playing ‘dress up.’ That could be because I didn’t have a whole lot of experience in the holiday rituals department.

After all, Thanksgiving in the home where I grew up? Not a terribly big deal. My parents divorced by the time I was three, so on the holidays it was always just my mom, sister, and me. My sister is ten years older than I am, and by the time I was 10, she was married and lived across the country. From that point forward, Mom and I were on our own.

God bless her, Mom was not much of a cook. She taught at a community college, and often had evening classes. Thus, I ate a lot of my meals with Chef Boyardee and Mama Celeste.

Our Thanksgivings looked something like this: we would watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade together on the TV in the den. I sat there in my p.j.s and Mom worked on whatever project she was sewing at her machine. Then, once the parade was over, Mom would settle in for a full day of watching football. It didn’t matter who was playing; she’d watch all the teams, though the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Oklahoma Sooners were the only teams she truly rooted for. Not much for football, I’d go back to her bedroom and lounge on her big bed while taking in the annual Twilight Zone marathon on one of the cable channels.

Eventually, Mom would holler back to me and ask me what I wanted to eat for Thanksgiving, as if it had just occurred to her that some sort of meal was in order. At least one year, and possibly more, we went through the drive-thru of Del Taco. More often than not, though, I’d yell back, “Chicken and dumplings,” and within a few hours I’d be rolling and slicing biscuit dough, then dropping the strips into a simmering pot of chicken broth.

Last month, my mother died unexpectedly. For the past seven years, she lived within a mile of me and we spoke or saw each other daily. We had a complicated relationship, and when I complained about her, friends whose mothers had passed away would often say something like, “You’re lucky — I wish my mom was here for me to argue with.” My response would often be “You might not say that if you’d had my mom…”

Now, I get it. There’s very little I wouldn’t give to have my mom here for Thanksgiving. I wish I had the opportunity for one last conversation. What would I say? Of course, I would tell her that I love her, but more importantly, I would say, from the bottom of my heart, “Thank you.” I know she knew that I loved her, but I wonder if she knew or could feel how profoundly grateful I am to her for all that she did for me, and later, for my boys.

So, Mom, if you’re watching, this one is for you:
This little Thanksgiving number was created using the adorable Life Is Great image. Here’s a close up of this cute little gal in her paper-pieced teal turtleneck:
As I’ve gone through some of the things at Mom’s house, I was surprised to find she’d kept every card I’ve ever made for her. Even though she never acted like they were anything out of the ordinary, I think she must have liked them, and I think she’d like this one, too.

This Thanksgiving, we’ll be heading out for lunch at one of my husband’s aunts. His grandmother is 101 years old, so we can’t not have Thanksgiving with Granny. But when we get home, I think I’ve figured out what I’ll make for dinner for Sean and the boys: chicken and dumplings, in honor of Mom. Maybe it will even become a tradition.

For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving next week, what is one of your favorite traditions? If you aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving or don’t have any traditions, tell me something or someone for whom you’re grateful. You have until midnight next Thursday (aka Thanksgiving) to be eligible for Karen’s random selection of one lucky commenter to win the Life Is Great set.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite blessings. If you like it, feel free to adopt it as your own.

Lord, for food in a world where many walk hungry,
For faith in a world where many walk in fear,
And for family and friends in a world where many walk alone,
We give you our thanks.


XO – Carole



  1. 1
    Joan B says:

    Hugs! I have been thinking of you. I’m so glad you found that your Mom had saved all your cards. That is so sweet and a true gift for you. My husband’s family has a tradition of fried cauliflower on major holidays and I adopted that once I got a taste!! Have a good thanksgiving.

  2. 2
    Yainea says:

    What a beautiful post. Really. She would love your card for sure ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. 3

    Wow. I was so touched by your story. I love the idea of chicken and dumplings every year. Do it. And maybe a Twilight Zone marathon, too. Hugs.

  4. 4
    Amy Rohl says:

    You’ve either got me laughing or crying, my dear! LOVE you either way! Huge huggies!

  5. 5
    Jenny says:

    Thank you for opening your heart to us Carole:) Your post was beautiful and honest….It’s so nice that your mom kept your cards even though she doesn’t sound like she was a ‘gusher’;) I’m sure she’d love this one too….and I think the chicken and dumplings is perfect:)Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  6. 6

    What a beautiful story! You started ny saying you didn’t really have Thanksgiving traditions, but you actually had wonderful traditions! with your mom, her sewing, you watching The Twilight Zone marathon & then the traditions of making chicken & dumplings together. What a lovely, quiet, unrushed, unpretentious way to celebrated. No airs or fuss..just simply being thankful for each other. I think you’ve found your traditions now – watch football, make chicken & dumplings & catch a few episodes of The Twilight Zone! Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. 7

    hi Karen-
    Love that sweet story of your lifestyle with mom…. It made me laugh and teary at the same time…. but even for the bad/good you have some cherish moments and memorable ones spent with her….I’m sure you will carry on part of the traditions you had through what ever festive holidays you had growing up…. Your card says it all….
    hugs to you ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. 8
    Betsy says:

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. You see, I just lost my mom in September. My dad passed away 12 years ago, and life with Mom has been difficult since then. She lived an hour away, and we were finally forced to move her into assisted living in my town about 3 1/2 years ago because she just couldn’t manage on her own. I think at times she hated me for moving her, and she was very verbal about it. There were times when I wished I could just crawl in a hole somewhere to escape all the turmoil. Now, though, I’d give anything to have her back for just one more day. I really miss her, especially since I had gotten to see her almost every day since she moved into assisted living. This will certainly be a strange Thanksgiving Day for me without her ~ my first one ever in 55 years!!!
    I think you should just carry on your traditions, even though they not be the ones others would think typical. They’re yours, and they have great meaning to you.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  9. 9

    Carole, that was such a sweet post. A tissue alert would have been nice. I now have a lump in my throat the size of… chicken dumplings. That brought back the memory of my grandmother making them for me, also. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds like you have yourself a new tradition. ๐Ÿ™‚

    HUGS my friend. (oh and your card is SUPER cute)

  10. 10

    What a beautiful tribute to your mom, Carole! We all have interesting relationships with our moms and as moms, sometimes with our daughters too! I am thankful my children and grandson are happy, healthy and we have a good relationship. Our family Thanksgiving tradition – a huge family gathering and potluck at my sister’s house and a crazy white elephant gift exchange with the whole family. It’s so much fun and truly kicks off the countdown to Christmas! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. 11
    MaryAnn says:

    Chicken and Dumplings sounds like a great thanksgiving meal to me even the Tacos are good if you eating with someone you love. Memories of the good times come back sometimes too late but you always have the memories. Beautiful card and tribute to your mother.Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. 12

    What a beautiful post! I’m so sorry about your mom, Carole! Giant hugs to you!

    We don’t really have Thanksgiving traditions. We usually go to my in-law’s house and eat there. That’s about it.

    Enjoy your chicken and dumplings, sounds like an excellent tradition.

  13. 13
    Julie E says:

    It sounds like your “untraditional” Thanksgiving was a tradition! I am so thankful that I do not have to cook the turkey. We head to my “Granny’s house” and I am thinking about having my kids make hats for everyone to add a little fun to the day :>) We better get started today as we need 16 of them!!!

  14. 14
    Kelli Hull says:

    See what the night shift does for me… I cruise around blog land and end up with you either making me laugh hysterically or Bust a gut in tears!!! SUCH a great and open hearted story, which is what I LOVE about you, the truth comes flying, it’s REAL!!! YOU are real!!!! I gotta say, it makes me feel SO much better to know that I just dont do “traditional” stuff… I am ME… Not everyone else… my poor kids… but with shift work and working jobs like I have, the holidays/birthdays just aren’t always on the “right” days… so I guess I kinda gave up… bad? good? **sigh I don’t know….


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