Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays.  This one will be bittersweet, as it will be the first one since my mother passed away November 5th.  However, I've spent many Thanksgiving Days away from my mom.  I won't spend the day mourning or grieving.  I'll thank God for giving me 50 plus years with the most wonderful mother ever!

The following is a repeat of a post I did a few years ago (November 2010):

The table ready for Thanksgiving at my mom's house, 2009

Thanksgiving during my growing-up years was always a wonderful celebration. Turkey was the star of the show, always made delectably by my mother.

It wasn't until I grew up and moved away that I really appreciated the fact that my mom had to get up early in the morning, while we were all still snoozing, to get the bird in the oven.

Mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie, and my mom's 24-hour marshmallow salad were always featured on the menu...and yes, football was always part of the festivities.

Growing up in a Christian home, we always took the time on Thanksgiving to reflect on our blessings and give thanks to God.

When I got married and moved to Illinois, Thanksgiving almost always meant a Swanson family celebration, usually at the the home of one of my husband's older brothers. My sisters-in-law are all amazing cooks, and any Swanson gathering means some delicious eats.

Of course, the turkey reigns supreme, but pies and fudge and all kinds of desserts offer temptation. One of my favorite dishes at Swanson Thanksgivings is my sister-in-law Gail's sweet potatoes, sauteed in butter.

There are always a variety of delicious vegetable casseroles on the menu as well.

If everyone has enough energy and it's not too cold out, we often make time for a walk to make us feel a little better about consuming so many Thanksgiving calories.
And of course, you'll find many family members watching football on TV.

Many times, I've had a smaller Thanksgiving celebration for my immediate family.

A few years ago, my son and his wife and my little grandson Payton were able to come from Texas. We actually had dinner at one of my sister-in-law's homes, but it was my first Thanksgiving as a Type 2 diabetic, and I made some diabetic-friendly desserts--including low-carb pumpkin pie--that were absolutely delicious.
I try to include at least one or two of these at every holiday meal, so I can indulge without feeling too guilty!

My mom's dining room table

My grandson Payton and my niece Arden at their own little table at my mom's house, last Thanksgiving. They love this table! (2009)

The table in my mom's entryway, decorated for the holiday (2009)

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Valley of the Shadow

Cynthia Anne Zarafonetis Garrett
July 9, 1933--November 5, 2013

On November 5th, shortly after 9 in the evening, I got a phone call that will forever change my life.  My precious mother had been found "unresponsive" and it wasn't good.  Shortly afterward, another phone call: "She's gone."

My mother wasn't just any mother--she was, simply, amazing.  Someday I will try to write more coherently and gracefully about her and all she meant to me.  Over 10 years ago, I wrote this tribute to her that makes an attempt at verbalizing the awesomeness that was my mother, but I don't know if it even came close.

On the night she died, I put this on Facebook:

I am devastated. My precious, beautiful mother, Cynthia Garrett, went home to be with the Lord this evening. She simply laid down as if for a nap, and never woke up. I talked to her just this morning and she was cheerful and happy and so alive. I'm so happy for her...she's with my dad, many of her friends and loved ones and her Saviour...but there's a hole in my heart that won't mend until I see her again. 

God has been very real and precious to my family and me in this time of grieving.  We are still able to smile and laugh in the midst of our tears.  We know we'll see her again someday.
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