Happy Thanksgiving!

Whatever you are doing today, whoever you are with, I hope you are present, happy, and relaxed. I am grateful to all of you for reading, contributing and all of your support this year. It means the world.

Over here, it’s our first Thanksgiving without my mom, and I’ve found myself looking for ways to bring her in, even as she is not there.

The key, I think, is the stuffing. Everyone in my family loved Mom’s stuffing, including all the grandchildren. It was the stuffing by which all others were (negatively) judged.

The thing is: she went to extreme lengths to guard the recipe — quite literally, it died with her. As a result, my father and brothers and I have spent the past month discussing what might have been in it. We all agree there were mushrooms and celery. I am fairly sure the key is to use Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix (“in the blue bag,” I think she once told me). There is disagreement about whether there were onions or carrots involved. Bacon! There was definitely bacon.

I’m going to get a crack at making this with my own immediate family, and then my dad is going to try his version when we go to his house. I’m sure that we will not get all the way there (one thing is that she stuffed it in the turkey, which I am not going to do), but just trying it is the way to feel closer. Just like I always feel closer to my grandmother when I add more and more milk and butter to the mashed potatoes. It gives me a chance to talk about both of them with my kids, to let them see that I’m sad, but also that there is joy in the tradition.

I hope this year’s holiday is bringing you nothing but happiness. But I also know, very well now, that holidays can bring many feelings, and the grief is okay too.

Whatever those feelings, I hope you are channeling them into something tasty to eat. And if you are, I invite you to share below. What are you cooking, and for whom?