Happy Thanksgiving…

When I opened my door on Thanksgiving morning, the first thing I saw was a great white heron stalking through the high grass in the marshy field next to my house. It immediately made me think of my mother. Every morning her neighbor in Sarasota, a very nice elderly gentleman, would lay out raw meat in his yard: strips of chicken breast or ground beef or whatever happened to be on hand. When we opened the door to get the morning paper, there would always be a gaggle of egrets and great white herons standing around waiting for him, like early morning shoppers waiting for the mall to open.

I don’t know if everyone feels this when they lose a parent, but since my mother passed away, I feel a little bit more like a grown-up. It’s not just that she’s no longer here to kiss my bruises (both physical and mental) or tell me to keep my feet off the couch or make me a grilled-cheese sandwich. It’s also that she’s not here to carry on the mantle of tradition. The last time I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at my house, George Bush was president – the first George Bush – so it’s high time I stepped up to the oven and took charge of things.

We had fourteen guests for Thanksgiving, which is hands-down the most people I’ve ever cooked for in my life. We mixed my mom’s good silver in with our own not-so-good silver, and I made cranberry sauce the way my mom always made it, with whole cloves, chopped oranges and a cinnamon stick, and in keeping with tradition, I made enough to feed fourteen people on a steady diet of cranberry sauce for about ten days. We’ll freeze half of it, and the rest will stay in the refrigerator until around February when we’ll finally throw it away and vow to make less next year.

The table looked pretty and everyone had seconds. There was lots of laughing and toasts and games with the kids. I did a good job, and I think my mom would have been proud. I’m thankful for that.

Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving was filled with love, happiness and lots of leftovers!


8 thoughts on “Happy Thanksgiving…

  1. That white heron was surely sent your way by your mom’s spirit to let you know that she’s still around.

    It sounds like you had a special Thanksgiving and I bet that’s exactly what she wished for her loved ones.

    By the way the cranberry sauce sounds really good!

    Warm regards,
    Margaret Ann

  2. I just discovered your mom’s books and I am loving them! I am not an avid reader but I started reading the first Dixie Hemingway book about 2 weeks ago and I have read the other 4 since. I am hoping my library has the one that came out in 2011. I am very sorry to hear of her passing.

  3. If your dad is still living you are blessed. Both of my parents are gone and I consider myself a Mid-Life Orphan. Sad, but true, no one to tell me what I did cute or bad when I was little and so on. I had a program on this and there are so many people that feel this way – I was surprised that so many people feel like this.
    Your right about feeling grown up, I not only feel it, I know it. My generation is it–no one above us – we are the next to go – – – So I try to make the most of each day and live it to the fullest – even if I am doing nothing and enjoying doing nothing then I am living my life happily.

  4. I returned recently from my vacation home on Longboat Key. This house was purchased after I began reading your mother’s books. Not only do I love her stories and characters but also fell in love with the area she described in her Dixie mysteries. When I described the area to my husband he was also hooked and the house soon followed. When I read her last book I could picture the roads she described in my head because I now travel those roads. I always tell people I found my house because of your mother and her books. When I returned from the last trip I went online to see when the next book would arrive in book stores only to discover the news of her passing. I found myself crying for someone I had never met and when I told my husband he said I should write you to tell you how much she ultimately meant to both of us. I look forward to reading her last book and to those you write in the future. My best wishes to you and your family.

  5. hi!
    i think i may be too young to be reading your books. Actually WAY too young.
    i adore them anyways. i am trying to convince my dad to let me read the rest of the Dixie Hemingway series. Yeah i know it’s not for a 6th grader. idc.(i don’t care) you are such a wonderful author and Dixie has such a personality i have read the book like a million times! i love love love the book. i saw it in a cat fancy mag.
    your books are awesome!

  6. omg she died! cry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! awaaaaaaaaa i am lit crying. i did not realize! i am sooooooo sad. i can not believe i had such a delaid reaction. i will tell all my friends. i am really sad now. wahhhh.

  7. Hi John,
    I have read all of the dixie hemingway mysteries and lots of stuff on the facebook page and so forth. I did know that your mother passed away. I just read this page about thanksgiving dinner. I totally know what you mean! After my mom died besides my mother’s sister (she is going to be 80 next week) I am the oldest in the family (I am 52 married with six kids) It does feel weird sometimes when your mom is not around to sort of “keep you in check” like if i miss going to church or something I have no one to answer to, well you know except you know who. and regarding the thanksgiving dinner, one year my sister in law and i did all the cooking and we ate at their house cause its bigger we put all the food out and realized that there were no green vegetables. we thought that was so funny, i mean if my mom was there we wouldn’t have been so child-like in choosing the menu! It’s been about 9 years now since my mom died and well I can tell you it gets better, but i’m no so sure of that, one thing I am sure of is that you will always miss her.
    I want to thank you for keeping her writing going. you did a great job finishing the last book. i am also sure that she is very very proud of you.
    take care,
    ps i am no writer thats for sure, please forgive my capilization and grammar.

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