Cathy Schmitz will be one of the featured readers March 21, 7:30 - 9:30 PM, Next Year's Words, The following short personal essay was published in 2016.
It will be a strange Thanksgiving this year. The first time we will all be together after we have all have been majorly disappointed. Even across our state lines, our heartbreaks the same. We will console each other and listen, even though we have heard it many times over already from those within our own states, our own circles, our own unanswered prayers, our own parties, our own lines. I hope that's our first day. Our Wednesday. The day before we gather around the food and pies. Thankful for what we already have, not what we hoped to have. That's the difference, the reason for the day. And why we pack and plan and travel for this day every year, to be reminded of what we already have.
Thursday, our family uses the same potato ricer that has been in use almost eighty years. It's not pretty. It's banged and chipped. It's quite a chore to rice all the potatoes for a big gathering; yet, each generation, in turn, fights for that honor. Young nieces try to cajole new boyfriends into ricing with them, and we let them, listening to their laughter over their shared mess. Long married couples, it's another year, ricing and reminiscing of past feasts when children were small, standing on stools to plop the softened chunks into the weird, old contraption, giggling as water and new reformed shapes come out the sides. Like play dough. Yeah, like play dough.
This year I will be thankful for that ricer, and all the memories of children and dates and dogs and bones and dishes and linens and gravy boats tied to it. And I'll wash it lovingly and dry it tenderly, and look forward to next year when the ricer reminds me again to be thankful for what I already have, not what I will or won't have. That is what this week, this day, is about. This year more than ever.