Thanksgiving – Missing the Jello… (Who in their right mind puts CELERY in lime Jello?!)

Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season.

Families gather together to reflect upon the past year, to stuff their faces with special treats and watch football.

I dread Thanksgiving.

It hasn’t always been this way.

I used to love the holidays and everything they represented. This was before my parents and Aunt passed away.

The holidays were split between Aunt Elaine’s and our house. Aunt Elaine hosted Thanksgiving, while my Mom would host Christmas.

Aunt Elaine, being single and not used to preparing large meals on a regular basis, would plan the meal several weeks in advance. It didn’t matter that it was the same menu every year. A lovely turkey, sage dressing, California blend vegetables, candied yams, mash potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, a condiment tray, pecan and pumpkin pies, and lime flavored Jello with diced celery…

Aunt Elaine went to so much trouble to make up the Jello dish, methodically dicing the celery into pieces of equal sizes… It was impossible to resist taking a helping when she passed the serving bowl to you and looked at you with her pleading eyes.

Being Catholic didn’t help. Resistance was futile.

There are two things here that I never understood. The first was why anyone in their right mind would ruin Jello by adding celery to it… and secondly, why anyone would use LIME Jello in the first place?

I have NEVER liked Lime Jello. Or Lime anything for that matter.

Maybe it’s something that comes with age.

All I know is that I had to eat the heaping spoonful that ended up on my plate year after year.

The dollop of mayonnaise that she insisted ‘top’ the florescent green pile on my plate did NOT help.

And yet, today, well over a decade after that last meal at Aunt Elaine’s I distinctly remember the celery Jello… and I miss it.

After Mom passed away, the idea of gathering to ‘celebrate’ seemed foreign. The first Thanksgiving was just a little over a month after her death. Dad was a bitter widower – forsaken by a God who took the love of his life – and, whether intentional or not, the pall that fell over that Thanksgiving was unbearable. Aunt Elaine didn’t offer to have Thanksgiving again. I don’t blame her.

The next couple of Thanksgivings were spent at Denny’s…

Bless the fine men and women who worked there – they did their best to decorate the place to be cheery and welcoming – and the turkey dinner wasn’t too bad, either – but there is something sad (pathetic, really) about spending a family-oriented holiday in a restaurant with what could be only described as other rejected souls.

Today, while I am thankful for those things that I have in my life, the holidays serve to remind me of the things that I no longer have in my life. And it is that huge void that I dread.