I was never much into Thanksgiving. Though I've always been into being thankful.
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was just a bump in the road on the way to Christmas. The family would get together at grandma's house where we'd all partake in her amazing cooking... and even more amazing dessert. When I became a vegetarian in 1986 I was anticipating problems. But my grandmother took it completely in stride. She made the stuffing outside the bird and used vegetable broth. Beans no longer had bacon in them. I was able to eat more than my fill without eating meat, and it was fine.
My grandmother was pretty great like that.
When grandma couldn't cook large-scale meals any more, Thanksgiving became progressively more scaled back. Instead of her roasting an entire turkey, there would be a "turkey loaf" (whatever that was). Dessert was store-bought. And when she had to be moved to a care facility, some of the family would show up and order extra plates from the cafeteria so we could still have dinner together. It wasn't the same. It sure didn't taste as good. But it meant something special to her for everybody to get together, and that's all that mattered.
After my grandmother passed there would be no more Thanksgiving dinners.
Before the next one rolled around, my mom would already be in a care facility. Her first Thanksgiving there, my brother and I were able to take her to the Denny's up the road. The next Thanksgiving was too difficult for her to travel even a short ways, so we had it in her room with to-go plates from that same Denny's. It was at that point that we found out she had difficulty feeding herself, making her last Thanksgiving a depressing affair for all three of us.
She didn't make it to the next Thanksgiving.
And so now I'm just done with it all. I am not interested in going to another Thanksgiving dinner. All it would do is be a painful reminder of all I've lost, even as I continue to be thankful that I had so many good Thanksgivings with my mom and grandmother in the past.
For however many years I have left, I'm happy to cook up some mashed potatoes with bread stuffing and cranberry jelly and spend the day with my cats.
That's a good enough Thanksgiving for me.