While I ate spaghetti with my mom and my sister one Thanksgiving Day, I struggled to conjure up a future precious memory or an insightful lesson I would garner. No – humor was out of the question. I was a 9-year-old kid. It was Thanksgiving. Where was the turkey, the stuffing, the pumpkin pie? At the least mom: meatballs would have been nice this dreadful day. What would I tell my friends? As unforgivable as this was at the time, years later, I would discover; life really is imperfectly perfect after all.
My Liberated Mom
It was the sixties. My mom was storming the gates of my quaint country town as a liberated woman. She had a hefty stash of Cosmo magazines under her bed. I am not sure if she discovered herself somewhere in the pages of this progressive publication, but she tossed her apron in a laundry basket, divorced my dad, and found a job.
Terrific – not only were my parents getting divorced – my mom was snubbing the PTA clique to go to work. Most mothers around here did not work. She would forever remain blackballed from the elitist moms who stayed married and at home with their children. In my young eyes, snubbing the PTA was unnerving – giving a turkey the brush-off was unfathomable.
Working on Thanksgiving
My Cosmo mom loved her new life. She worked hard and earned her own paycheck, but money was always tight. She also had to work weekends. It was not ideal for her, but for us kids, it meant having the run of the house on Saturday and Sunday. We got into everything and did anything we knew was naughty. It was great.
Mom’s days off from her state job at a developmental center nearby, were Thursday and Friday. This was not an issue until she realized the fourth month into her new job – she would have to work Thanksgiving. Assuring my sister, and me that we would have Thanksgiving after she got home from work, we left it at that. It was all good. My mom got out of work at 1 p.m., so that was perfect timing. That left plenty of time to enjoy our Thanksgiving Day together.
I Don’t Smell Turkey
I guess I assumed my mother would be cooking a turkey and throwing together an entire Thanksgiving dinner after working all day. As a kid, I did not have an inkling of what went into the prep of a holiday meal.
However, when she got home, she made spaghetti… on Thanksgiving. Strolling through the kitchen, my sister and me eyed the spaghetti cooking. We gave each other the secret sister say it ain’t so look, but said not a word. Was there a chance she was making spaghetti for a neighbor who did not have a turkey?
Thanksgiving Spaghetti Lessons
My mom set a beautiful table. She served spaghetti on the fancy Thanksgiving dishes. I was angry and said nothing to my mom as we sat down to eat our holiday meal. My mom explained that she was exhausted, and simply did not have the extra money to put together a Thanksgiving dinner.
She said she was sorry she had to work on Thanksgiving. She also said she would make it up to us the next year. There was no way I could understand the depth of where she was coming from. My disappointed little girl ears ignored her words.
I would not come to realize just how bad she felt that day until years later – when I was a liberated, divorced; woman of two daughters… and money for me was always tight.
As Life Goes
Because of that spaghetti holiday, I have a cherished memory. I also gained a valuable lesson about us being together as a family. Oh, and the times I have laughed about eating spaghetti on Thanksgiving… well, there is no possible way to count.
When my beloved mom passed five years ago, I took over her lifelong job of hosting the ever-growing family Thanksgiving dinner. My spaghetti Thanksgiving recollection, needless to say, is alive and well that day. Thanks for the life lesson and the beautiful memory, Mom!