Tag Archives: vacation

Thanksgiving Memoir

In honor of American Thanksgiving though I am Canadian and live in Canada and because I will be having a dinner served to me while on vacation in Arizona I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share a story from several years ago…


At my house the experience of Thanksgiving Dinner is similar to an approaching hurricane ending with the aftermath of destruction – my imagined comparison, seeing as I’ve never really experienced a real hurricane.

It begins with the slow build up of whirlwind activity, the planning, writing lists, shopping, then shopping some more with frenzy and panic building as the day comes closer.  There are recipes to prepare and store away, either in cupboards, fridge or freezer.

The decision of what kind of turkey to buy rests with me – should it be one shot full of grease or a fresh one from the local store which would be faster and easier for me.  Perhaps I ought to go all out and buy an organic recently killed beast from the farm too many miles away.

As the hurricane air stirs up I forget all about the turkey decision and send the hubby to buy it.  As the mounting tension rises I think about who will attend dinner, who will not and how many to invite.  Pondering how long one should wait to call I also consider how long they will stay and where I will put everyone in our small dining area.

The day arrives, the people come, the noise increases and the children run and screech.  The house is filled with the roar and the pace in the kitchen picks up as food flies from storage containers to the stove, from pot to bowl and the countertops disappear under the mountain of colorful platters.

The crowd plays musical chairs while one child wants to be near another and I quickly arrange a separation between two young adult siblings who chose this day to have a fight.

The legs of the table groan under stacks of mashed potatoes, a pile of healthy vegetables several children will not touch, a dead bird full of bread and twenty elbows plopped on top.

There are not really any full conversations to be heard, only sounds of whish, plunk, “pass the…” “thanks, “more please,” cranberry,” “mm mm good,” and “what, no more gravy” as the serving bowls and platters whisk by.

Then all becomes quiet except for the sounds of forks scraping plates, of slurp, munch and crunch as the food disappears down the human vacuums.

Once done eating, all the participants leave the table except one.  Mom.  Me.  I push my plate out of the way and lay my head on the table and out of one eye I survey the latest storm.

Instead of mountains of food it is now foothills of slop, with dark gravy stains on the white cloth, cranberry on the chairs, cloth napkins tossed into the empty stuffing bowl and the high chair needing to be hosed down.

I let out a long slow breath.

Lifting my head I take my napkin and fold it into a square then lay it on the table claiming it as my spot – the only clean one.  I’ll come back here later with a cup of coffee and a piece of pie.

I tune into the sounds around me and realize I have to go and stop the streams of rippled white goo spraying across the kitchen from an over enthused teenager who is using our canned whipped cream to stir up some excitement from a sibling.

With another long sigh, I recognize I wouldn’t have it any other way.






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As Darkness Falls

Recently I spent 17 days in Mesa, Arizona at Val Vista, (http://www.cal-am.com/resorts/resorts_details.php?resorts_id=2&search=quick) among hundreds, possibly thousands of Snowbirds – the name given to people of the retired age who fly or drive to live or vacation in the many Southern parts of the world.  Sitting around the pool, or riding my borrowed bike to a local Pickleball court to join up with a friendly group of women that I met, or simply bundling up at night for a stroll around the park, (the temperatures do drop) made it a challenge to even think about the vacation coming to an end.

Waking up to the nearly every day sunshine and an overhead blue ceiling produced an abundance of energy, which was needed to accomplish all the bike riding, Pickleball, walking, swimming, exploring and shopping that I and my husband Ross managed to do.

One evening, after a full day of play and entertaining myself and while Ross was still out on some golf course, or rather traveling home from one, the sun was setting and I happened to look outside our rental unit to see the sky change from blue to pink to shadows.  Of course I grabbed my camera and captured the moment.  I remember a sense of calm which came over me, the belief that all was well with my world, the awe of a day closing and feeling safe, secure and at peace. I nested within myself and as I think about it now, it was as though a warm blanket covered me, protected somehow as I watched darkness fall.

Sunset @ Val Vista

Sunset @ Val Vista

I do love that cozy feeling of the sun setting and my adjustment as evening takes over and I turn lights on but it wasn’t always like that as darkness covered me.  I often wrestled with darkness when I was young.  As a child, I dreaded the night for that was when I listened to arguments, when shadows revealed scary wind, branches that scratched at the window, the fear of being alone and various behaviors of others that tore off my security.  Instead of sleep, too often my mind remained occupied with thoughts of being robbed, of my parents marriage breakup and my splintered family.  Under the weight of darkness evil lurked at every corner of my imagination which produced a wild and uncontrolled panic within.  I took all those realities and imagined fears with me into my teenage and young adult life, until one by one I was able to look at them in the daylight and dismantle their power.

As a young adult and a new spiritual awareness of God, who became my strength and healer; with family, friends and a long process of support, my unstable childhood receded into the shadows – still there but lacking power to control.

So that one vacation sunset day stands out among others as I took pictures and listened to the hum of days end, as lights blinked on and the smell of barbecues cooked up an evening meal.   I absorbed all that my senses could take in, then settled onto a couch to read a book until my man arrived ‘home.’

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