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This mami isn’t cooking on Thanksgiving

Yes, I know that as the matriarch of my clan I am expected to do SOME type of cooking. I can cook, and I have most years. But this year, Thanksgiving falls on my birthday. It happens every few years. As you may imagine I have had many a turkey birthday cake in my soon to be 42 years. I don’t mind. I see it as a blessing, because I’m always surrounded by loved ones and enjoy family and friends getting together.

So my gift to myself this birthday is no cooking. Not even my delicious cranberry stuffing or my uh-mazing frijoles negros. This year we ordered our meal and will bring to it my son and daughter-in-law’s home to enjoy a wonderful day of spending time together and having fun. The men will disappear for a while to play video games and the ladies will chat without being stressed or exhausted. We will talk, play board games and do whatever else we feel like doing. I will even have plenty of time to make my calls to family and friends.

It may not be a fancy holiday event, but I’ve had, been to and hosted many a fancy event. And I will continue to do so for years to come. But once in a while, it’s refreshing to just enjoy each other and the day. Heck, we may even use paper plates to avoid too much clean up.

Instead of spending the day cooking as of 4am, I will wake up at my usual 5:30 am and enjoy my daily 5 mile jog without feeling rushed or frazzled. I will reflect on the day ahead and remember to live in gratitude. I will have my daily chat with my dear brother who left us this February. It’s still painful to talk or write about, but it is a reality in my life and I’m just trying to figure out how to live with it and honor him the best way I can. I will think about business and recap my week and think about my goals for the rest of Q4. Then I’ll listen to some podcasts and head home for a shower and wake everyone up with coffee and a smile.

I do enjoy cooking for the holidays, but I also get very stressed, as does everyone who cooks and plans for any party or gathering. There is a reason that every magazine and many blogs feature articles about ways you can avoid the holiday stress. I also know that cooking and gathering while you do so is part of the fun of the holidays. It’s really up to you what you decide to do. It’s perfectly fine to purchase a great meal from your local grocer, as most offer a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the sides where you can pick it up fully cooked and simply warm it in the oven. We’ve done it a couple of times and have always enjoyed it.

If you want to give yourself the gift of less stress and more enjoyment, then call up your grocer or visit the deli and see what they have. You can even do what I have done at times, which is to order the meal and then cook a few sides that you really enjoy cooking and the family always requests.

Losing my brother has been a difficult reminder that life is not the fancy plates or the perfectly roasted turkey or pig. It’s the jokes and the laughter. It’s the father dancing with his daughter to salsa music or the boys running around ruining their holiday outfits. It’s the dog being overfed scraps by well meaning visitors. It’s the grandma getting tipsy and giggling too much. It’s making memories that you will recount and cherish for years to come.

I will be spending my time making memories and remembering the ones tucked away in my heart, especially those with my brother. Whatever you choose to do, I wish everyone a peaceful holiday and that you make many lovely memories.

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