Image by suzukiQ via FlickrToday I was in the kitchen with my youngest daughter, preparing dishes for our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. The olive oil in the cast iron skillet was just the right temperature and over it I held a large bowl full of chopped bell peppers, onion and celery. As the first vegetables hit the hot oil, the fragrance wafted up to me and unexpectedly, it hit me. This smell is the quintessential smell of my childhood, of my parents.
Gone thirteen years now, I can never cook a dish beginning with these ingredients without missing them deeply. It seemed that smell was the start of every special dish in our house and it was the smell of our holidays, as it is now the smell of the holidays for my own children. I was glad I had tucked a handkerchief in my apron, something my grandmother would have done, because I needed it to wipe my tears and blow my nose.
The memories of our holidays past shape our present and future ones. We treasure holidays because we treasure the memories of those who are no longer with us and we treasure the times in our lives which seemed so much simpler. We treasure the rituals we have built around our holidays. These rituals are part of our past, part of our spouses' past and even a blend of new rituals we have developed with our own families. We cannot forsake the celebrating the holidays because they exist as an honoring of what has gone before and the hope of what will yet come.
For me, the knowledge that my parents will never be forgotten in my holidays, especially as long as celery, onions and bell peppers are thrown into a hot pan of olive oil, is comforting. Even once I am no longer able to cook those things which produce the heart-rending smells, I have confidence my children will, and they will remember me as I remember my parents.
I wish you each a very Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Christmas season.