Give thanks with a grateful heart. It’s Thanksgiving morning and I am in a very rare and quiet moment as I do my chore that I have done for many years. Having lived away from my family for the last 28 years and flying in or driving in for holidays I usually am responsible for “making the table pretty” as my mother would call it. Since I was a small child it was her way yo get me out of the kitchen while she cooked, even though eventually I became one of her favorite people to cook with, it’s not usually my job today. I will help serve later but this morning she and my brother are putting the finishing touches on days of cooking.
My mother never knew how decorating the tables would help define and hone my design skills. Table top is still one of my favorite ways to decorate my home when I entertain friends. So today as usual, I am making the table pretty. And today as usual. I am rambling around in my father’s garden cutting things for the tables. For so many years as my mother went to the restaurant or now the catering kitchen to finish cooking the huge Thanksgiving dinner we will share later today with my Mothers part of the family. I am at home getting the house ready. I so miss my father this morning, it is a morning like this my father would see me working on the table and he would call me outside to see his beautiful oranges, and cut me down way too many. Then we would move on to the lemons and limes, the ferns, roses and all of the great foliage including of course the prized fig leaves off of the fig tree. It was our time as we would wander the yard and I would appropriately oh and ah at his green thumb and incredible huge fruit and flowers. Some years I would admit I would just want to get in and finish the table, and not visit every square inch of the garden – I would give anything now for another of those moments with him in his garden. In his last few years as his illness began to keep him in a wheelchair, he would point from his picture window to me as I cut the oranges and other bounty. It was our time together that most people didn’t even know when they later looked at our masterpiece of table decor and he would smile so proud that his garden was a big part of the festivities.
So this morning I slow down and remember his memory in the midst of making the table pretty with olive leaves, fig leaves, orange leaves and oranges and limes. My dad and I always made the table pretty together and few knew it was our very special precious time. He was always so pleased at the final product and he always encouraged my creative skills in that way. So today about 40 plus people will visit my Moms house in Jacksonville, all the Bajalia side of the family, added to that friends and co-workers who do not have a place to go will share our table and make new memories. But I will never forget the joy I have had this morning remembering all of those garden moments with my sweet father. He lived until he was 83, and two years ago we lost him, but as I think at him this morning I see him everywhere. It is days like today, Thanksgiving he lived for, entertaining our family in his home, serving from his kitchen, and decorating from his yard. Precious moments and memories, I remember today and I savor each one new and old. I am grateful for the memories and moments and I miss my dad. This Thanksgiving be grateful for all of the small moments that make this day a day of gratitude. I heart is full of joy, my eyes misty with tears , but oh so thankful for family and that I get this moment to slow down and remember. Enjoy these images of the work of me and my dad making our table pretty over the last few years.