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Thanks so much for visiting HipWriterMama, my blog about children's books, authors and readergirlz!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Thanksgiving Feast of Sorts

Thanksgiving is a time for most people to reflect on gratitude, remember our loved ones, and appreciate our life's bounty. The meaning of Thanksgiving has shifted for me over the years. From sweet to bittersweet.

As a young girl, I couldn't wait for this holiday, much to my mom's dismay. She was and still is an incredible cook, when it comes to fragrant Korean meals that were our daily sustenance. But Americanized meals? The lack of hot spices puzzled her, and her attempts at cooking American were dismal at best. So when she took up the gauntlet every Thanksgiving to cook a traditional feast, you know that's pure love brewing up magic. Especially since her birthday falls on Thanksgiving every few years. When I learned how to cook (thanks to those Home Ec classes in high school all the girls were forced to take), I was able to create my own Thankgiving/Birthday meals and give my mom an opportunity to be relax and enjoy her special day.

After I graduated from college and moved to Boston, I had my first couple Thanksgivings with my best friend's German family. Talk about a Thanksgiving smorgasbord of American and German influences. And then it made me realize that my mother's Thanksgiving meals were a celebration of everything American and Korean and it was dog gone wonderful.

Afterwards, I spent a few Thanksgivings at another college friend's home, and had my first taste of what I imagined a true traditional Thanksgiving was all about. Martha Stewart could be cloned from my friend's mother or vice versa. Talk about a multitude of dishes and desserts that were made ahead of time. Handmade decorations, incredible flower arrangements, little presents wrapped at every place setting. A total gluttonous feast for all the senses.

Then I met the man who would later become my husband, and our Thanksgivings have always been together.

It wasn't until four years ago that Thanksgiving held a different meaning for me. My nephew Michael, was killed in a freak shooting accident, November 19th, a few days before he was to visit all the family in Boston. My youngest was two months old at the time, and in the last conversation we ever had, Michael told me he couldn't wait to meet his new cousin. My other two children were so excited for Michael's visit, especially my eldest. She loved her cousin dearly.

And then we got The Call. The call no one ever wants where you feel like your very breath has been punched right out of you and you're free falling into nothingness. That Thanksgiving was so painful, so filled with What If's. It was a very difficult time to be grateful for anything, when we felt we were robbed of all the possibility and hope of Michael's young life.

Michael was one of the brave who served in the Marines, was sent overseas, and saw too much despair and horror. He was one of the hopeful, who was finally home and ready to start a new life. He was one of the considerate who would help a family member or friend in need. He was one of the honorable, who believed in the power of his word.

A year later, we were to mourn the loss of my mother-in-law, who at the age of 87 was still loving life but missed her first grandchild even more. I loved her dearly but never could say it out loud to her, and for that I have much regret.

Life does go on, and while I do have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, I still find myself at a loss. So while I take a few days off, and focus on revising my manuscript in honor of Michael, I offer you A Thanksgiving Meal Menu of Conversation Starters, in celebration of some of the bloggers who have some wonderful words to share:



A Thanksgiving Meal Menu of Conversation Starters

Appetizers
A Special Thanksgiving Tradition
Some Thanksgiving Poetry

Main Courses
Robert's Snow Auction
The Cycle of Life
Warriors in the Battle of Should, Part I and Part II
Living with Food Allergies
Give the World, Gift a Book: Downloadable Bookmarks
Growing Bookworms Newletter
Poetry Stretch Results--Poems of Apology
November Carnival of Children's Literature and Tips

Dessert
An incredible crown of glory
A surprise engagement
Children's Books That Never Were

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

14 comments:

Jen Robinson said...

I'm so sorry about your nephew, Vivian. But I appreciate that you can still find it in your heart to put together such a nice menu of Thanksgiving posts. I'm honored to be included with these various posts, many of which brought a little tear to my eye (like when they sang the song after Christine's Grandfather died. Wow!). Thanks so much! I wish you and your family a joyful Thanksgiving. I suspect that Michael would have wanted you, and especially your daughters, to be joyful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post. The sad years make us realize what we do have to be thankful for. A friend lost her son last summer; from watching her,I have some tiny inkling of what you went through with your cousin. Its never easy.

HipWriterMama said...

Thank you, Jen and Anonymous, for your kind words.

Liz in Ink said...

Oh, Vivian. What a sad story. Blessings on your family. I hope glasses get raised to your dear nephew every Thanksgiving...
(Thank you, too, for the sweet tip of the hat to my couple of posts...)

Kelly said...

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Vivian, despite the losses. Enjoy your family.

LiteracyTeacher said...

My grandfather died on Thanksgiving when I was 12 years old. It took years for Thanksgiving to become a joyful holiday again. Two decades later, it's a day we enjoy again, but still holds some sadness. May time heal your pain and may this become a day where you can again feel joy and happiness.

jules said...

Have a great Thanksgiving -- for yourself and your family and in memory of those you have lost.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Thanks for this post, Vivian. It's always hard to read about someone losing their life at so young an age. My brother was 24 when he died. I find Thanksgiving a little hard, as it was his favorite holiday.

HipWriterMama said...

Thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts. It is so appreciated.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Minh Le said...

Thank you for sharing your story and helping to put things into perspective during the holiday season.

all the best,
Minh

p.s. your story about early Korean Thanksgiving meals reminds me of the time my aunt stuffed our turkey with Fried Rice... now that's what I call Fusion!

Laini Taylor said...

I'm so sorry about your nephew, Vivian. At this time of year with Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving coming so near one another, it's hard not to think of all the families in the country with empty chairs at their tables. As you say, life goes on, but some "empty chairs" are more tragic and infuriating than others.

As for multicultural Thanksgiving holidays, two come to mind. One, when I was fourteen and lived in Belgium, and my father invited his whole NATO office over to learn about our American holiday. There were Dutch, English, Turkish, German, I don't remember who else. My little sister stood on a chair and told them about pilgrims and indians!

And then, in college: went to my Russian-American roommate's house for Thanksgiving. Total mix of Russian and American food. It was funny and really FUN.

Happy holiday!

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

Hip Writer Mama, you've touched my heart. I pray that the sense of loss lessens over the years and only the wonderful and loving memories remain.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Vivian,

Sorry to be so late in leaving a comment. I do hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am sorry about your family's loss of such a young and dearly loved young man.

In 1984, my father passed away a few weeks before Thanksgiving. It was a difficult holiday for my family to observe that year.

PJ Hoover said...

Wow. Finally catching up on blogs. I'm so sorry for your loss. It certainly gives your WIP a special, new meaning.
-Tricia