I Appreciate my Mom on Thanksgiving.

For the past couple of years, I’ve done this to myself. Gone way overboard. Cleaned the house top to bottom, cooked a ridiculous menu of homemade stuff, with enough for at least twelve people.

Last year, it was a feast that my partner and I didn’t eat a bite of ourselves until we had assembled and delivered six plates to friends who were alone and unable to see family because of Covid. I “blame” my mother for that. I get that from her. She was the first person to trudge through the Blizzard of ’78 because Aunt Charlotte was alone, and getting on in years.

This year, I’m going overboard yet again. Cooking in my dinky, Manhattan-sized kitchen is now a challenge. It’s downright slapstick. I had to put some mixing bowls on the sofa until I had room to put them in the sink. And the pies are cooling in the microwave.

I’m not doing deliveries this year, because last year was really fraught, but it did remind me that it feels really good to help others out. I “blame” my mom for that too.

I instead sent out about 15 text invites – carefully chosen – because my planned guest came down with a fever and had to cancel, and there is so much food to be shared. (Fortunately, last year’s delivery recipients are going to be with family and/or friends again.)

I am still going to save a plate or two or three, and bring them to neighbors – this time, AFTER we’ve eaten (unlike last year, I now have a cat in the house who would demolish the feast while we’d be delivering).

So, I’m questioning myself as to why I even want to do this. My comedic brain thought: maybe it’s so I can keep getting out of cooking anything at all ever for the next twelve months. My younger brain thought: “IT’S BECAUSE WE WERE ALL TRAINED TO HAVE TO DO THIS PATRIARCHAL CRAP.”

And, both might be true on some level. Equally valid would be the sheer tempting challenge of Tetris-ing all these damn dishes and other cooking supplies in a kitchen the size of what you’re likely to get in Manhattan, where the oven opens directly into the bathtub.

But, I think it’s mostly something far different than that, and it makes me understand my mother more. Going way overboard to make somebody’s life nice, and less lonely, just feels correct and good.

Not in a “let’s get likes on Facebook for attention, look how perfect I am” kind of way. Not in an “I need validation and supplicants” kind of way. Not to show off. The only reason I’ll be posting any food photos is because I’ll be hoping some hungry folks will stop by and eat some of this stupid amount of food we’re cooking. (Hence the 15 invites.)

I always thought my mom did this sort of thing because she was forced into it by (highly sexist, I’m not gonna lie) family tradition. But I understand now that she did it out of the purest love.

Sharing a meal made with care and love and heart is one of the most emotionally intimate things you can do. Making delicious food, and sharing it with loved ones, and seeing them enjoy that meal, is such a wonderful feeling. As the modern parlance goes, food is a “love language.”

It’s not a reputation to uphold. It’s not insidious or manipulative. I expect nothing from my loved ones in return for the food. Well, I guess I do – I expect that they’ll let me know if it sucks, and if they enjoy it, I expect to enjoy it along with them, much more than I would alone. Kinship is the one seasoning you cannot buy.

I get it, Mom. And I love you, and appreciate you, and thank you. The world crashed down around us a lot in my youth, and somehow, you always made sure I had good food. And with the world crashing down around us during the past couple of years, I think I’m carrying on your love language.

I get it. God bless you. I love the beautiful person you are. And I thank you for giving me that legacy of love.


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