Category Archives: Thanksgiving

The Empty Seats at the Table


Last year, our Thanksgiving was a small affair. Small as in the four of us. Schedules and sickness prevented either side of our family from spending the holiday with us.

Instead of bucking tradition, Mike and I did everything we would’ve done had we actually hosted a feast for everyone. We cooked a big turkey on the rotisserie and made gravy from the drippings, and we prepared side dishes, including mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. I put out a few cheeses and dips, and we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on television. The kids went for a swim, rode bikes, and played video games. The difference came when it was time to eat. Setting the dining room table seemed silly, so we ate dinner in front of the television.

Everything was fine. The food was fine. The kids were fine. The clean up was fine, but I was not fine. For years, our parents had been the center of our holiday rituals and traditions, and as we ate our Thanksgiving dinner with plates in our laps while browsing the DVR, I realized that framework was fleeting. We had always been supporting actors in a Thanksgiving play starring the elders of our family, and their absence, whether it was temporary or not, made me feel lost and alone. My husband and kids surrounded me, but all I could see were the empty seats at the table.

“We’re not doing this next year if it’s just the four of us,” I told Mike as I loaded the dishwasher for the third time. “We have to make new traditions.”

I wanted a fresh start.

Now, I’m shopping for sunscreen instead of sweet potatoes because instead of setting the table for Thanksgiving at home, we’re setting sail on a family cruise. It’s the fresh start I wanted, but it doesn’t feel exactly how I thought it would.

I should have known that avoiding a traditional Thanksgiving wouldn’t make the empty seats at the table any less empty. I should’ve known that I’d pack those empty seats and take them with me just as I carry their weight in my heart at home. I should’ve known that all of my Thanksgiving memories and expectations would serve as an impossible comparison no matter the locale.

As I rummage through drawers and closets looking for everything we need to pack for our getaway, I’m also searching for gratitude – for the rituals and traditions our parents have lovingly passed down to us, for the opportunity we have to make new ones with our kids, for the seats that won’t be empty this year, and, most of all, for the beloved memories of the seats that will never be filled again.

Wishing you love, peace, and gratitude this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Filed under family, Thanksgiving

The Holiday Mash-Up I’m Grateful Will NOT Happen This Year

Now that Halloween is over, our carved pumpkins have expired, Target’s Holiday Shop is half stocked, Ritz’s seasonal snowflake-shaped crackers are on the shelves, has sent an email announcing their countdown to Black Friday, and Whole Food’s holiday ordering table is ready to go, I feel like it’s an ideal time to talk about gratitude.

I’m grateful that I had another essay published on Mamalode last week and that the average temperature in South Florida is finally 82 instead of 92 degrees. I’m grateful for Daylight Saving Time, because even though the early sunset is jarring, I really appreciate the light at 6:00am. I’m grateful the boys are doing well in school despite their morning protests. I’m grateful for “The Good Wife” and SkinnyPop (always), and I’m grateful that Thanksgiving, my most favorite holiday of the year, is just around the corner.

I’m especially grateful that Thanksgiving is coming alone this year. Alone as in without Hanukkah. No offense to Hanukkah here. It’s a holiday I enjoy immensely. It’s just that I don’t want to shred potatoes for latkes, brine a turkey, and watch Santa Claus float down Sixth Avenue at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at the same time. It’s confusing!

In fact, let’s take a moment to rejoice in that fact that the once-in-a-lifetime experience of Thanksgivukkah won’t rear its ugly “turkey wearing a yarmulke” head again this year. I’m not saying that the “chistoric chybrid challaday” wasn’t interesting or unique, but like many interesting or unique experiences, such as the luau dinner show at Disney’s Polynesian Resort or a walk on a long pier with a toddler who won’t hold your hand, once is enough. Let’s just say I’m grateful that the next time Thanksgivukkah happens will be in 2070, at which point I’ll most likely be dead.

Here are few other reasons I’m grateful Thanksgivukkah is safely in the rearview mirror:

1. I didn’t have to start my holiday shopping before I finished buying school supplies.

2. Art projects, including but not limited to the turkey with a menorah tail or the menorah shaped like a turkey (i.e. the menurkey) are officially relics of the past.


3. There’s no pressure to replicated homemade, turkey-shaped challah (i.e. the challurkey) as seen on Pinterest or fill a turkey piñata with gelt, because, let’s face it, nothing says Thanksgiving or Hanukkah like a piñata.

4. I’ll never hear “Gobble Tov!” again. What does that even mean? Mazel tov is a Jewish phrase to express congratulations. The only appropriate reason to say “Gobble Tov!” is if you or someone you know actually made a challurkey, and I find that hard to believe.

5. I don’t have to pretend to be excited to cook fusion recipes, like Maneschewitz-brined roast turkey and sweet potato noodle kugel. Who the hell likes Maneschewitz or kugel anyway?

6. Thanksgivukkah is a bitch to spell. Thanksgivvukah? Thanksgivukah? Thanksgivaka? Thanksgivekkah? Thankswhogivesacrap!

There is one holiday mash-up that I really like. As a Mama who celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas with my kids, Chrismukkah, or “Chorus mullah” as my AutoCorrect prefers, causes a fantastic gift-giving overlap.  In other words, when one night of Hanukkah and Christmas share the same day, I can kill two birds with one stone present, which results in another very happy, merry, and cost-effective reason to be grateful.

Did you enjoy Thankgivukkah? Which two holidays would you like to mash up?

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Filed under gratitude, Hanukkah, list, Thanksgiving