I love Thanksgiving because it brings to the surface warm feelings of home and family.

We spend our summers outdoors enjoying the sun and fresh air. We're outside gardening, or off on rides to the beach, attending cookouts or gathering at the homes of others.

So when fall arrives with its wind and brisk temperatures, we reluctantly move inside to escape the chill Mother Nature has delivered. Gradually we opt to spend more and more time indoors until the end of daylight saving time arrives and we are forced inside because of darkness.

But by then, being "stuck" indoors feels good because of the smells of baked apples in the oven, hot apple cider brewing, and ohhhh, that aroma of pumpkin pie spice candles burning.

The silver lining to days that seemingly begin and end with nighttime, is knowledge that the holidays are just around the corner.

Farm stands gradually say goodbye to their summertime wares of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and corn, and begin stocking corn stalks, pumpkins, gourds, apples, apple butter and colorful mums.

First to arrive is Halloween, then wonderful Thanksgiving with its abundance of food and family. The body seems to have its own clock because the urge for roasted turkey arrives a good month before the actual Thanksgiving holiday.

There is nothing better than the smell of a turkey browning and crisping in the oven, chock-full of bread stuffing with chopped apples, whole cranberries, diced sweet onions and lots of fresh sage, thyme and rosemary.

Many will serve a traditional meal of turkey, stuffing, gravy, warm rolls, freshly mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Others get creative with additional dishes like sweet potatoes roasted with cinnamon and cloves, butternut squash with butter and brown sugar, steamed green beans with lemon butter, and honey-lemon roasted carrots.

We look forward to Thanksgiving because it's the holiday that solidifies family ties more than any other: Grandmothers, grandfathers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren and great-grandparents squeeze around the holiday table to share a meal together. Families travel to be together on this holiday more than any other.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday for families with an abundance of food and abundance of family. But it can be tough for families lacking in one or both.

So as we gather around the table, we should be grateful for the food and family we have, and we should tell each other so.

On holidays, families gather for quality time together, but how often do family members tell each other how happy they are to be together? The words go unspoken because we assume the good times will continue year after year, taking for granted that life will go on.

But in reality, sooner or later there will be a Thanksgiving with an empty seat at the table. And those left around it may be full of regret, wishing they had told their loved one how much he or she meant to them while still here.

So this holiday season make a point to tell those you love how much they mean to you. And remember how difficult this holiday is for people who are alone.

Look around your neighborhood and see if there is anyone who may be spending the holiday is solitude. If you find someone, extend an invitation to dinner. If they say no, be persistent because they probably won't want to impose, fearing they'll be in your way.

If you can't convince them, offer to bring a plate of hot food, and when you deliver it, serve up some good wishes for the holiday too. Maybe you can convince them to come for dessert. They will be grateful you offered.

You will be grateful too.

nnn

Jean MacDougall-Tattan is editor of The Haverhill Gazette.



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