Thankful Thursdays 09.27.2018

When I went for a walk the other evening I noticed faint golden edges on some of the trees along the reservoir. Soon the valley below the overpass will be an autumnal rainbow.

September seems to have come and gone (soon) with barely a moment to catch my breath. Back to school is always a challenge, getting acclimated to different routines, curriculum nights, homework, etc. Here we are on the precipice of October, and I find myself wondering how can we slow down time just a tiny bit?

The truth is this time of year passes in the blink of an eye. There’s so many wonderful things to look forward to—Halloween (if you have little ones), Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s. It makes getting through the shorter days and longer nights a little easier, all the merriment.

And yet, those same things that bring such joy open wounds for anyone who’s experienced a deep loss, or manages depression on a daily basis. Without a sense of community and belonging, it’s easy to get swept away in the current of everyone else’s seemingly perfect life, of which we know isn’t true, regardless of the minutely curated Instagram culture we live in.

My mind is already wandering towards Thanksgiving, wondering what we’ll do this year to feel less alone while most families gather and celebrate. Even if the group you call family is dysfunctional, take it from a girl who grew up in one heck of a loud, often argumentative family, I miss those big holiday tables. Cooking for crowds of people—my uncle, aunts, in-laws.

When Michael died it began a domino effect of loss. That first Thanksgiving my best friend came with her mother to celebrate with us. My own mother didn’t want to come, and my godmother stayed in Florida for Thanksgiving that year, as she had begun doing a few years earlier. Then my uncle died a year and a half after Michael, and with him went our Christmas gatherings.

In the first few years after Michael’s death, I tried to find friends to take us in, make us part of their holidays. It worked for a while, until it didn’t. Everyone has their own family to balance. So, as I enter this season, I try to remind myself how much I love the crunch of leaves beneath my boots. I think of the first snowfall, and how magical it feels, a renewal of sorts, beckoning us to slow down. I know it seems too soon to talk of snow, but here I am, falling down mental rabbit holes on a crisp Thursday morning.

I’m not sure the purpose of writing today except that I’ve really missed being in this space, writing for the sake of sharing words–words that I know resonate with so many of you. And to say thank you for taking this journey with me, whether you’ve been here since the beginning 10 years ago, or joined me recently. I value all of you immensely.

p.s. I’d love to ask a favor if you can spare five extra minutes. I’ve an idea for a new project, and would love your feedback. Would you mind taking this anonymous survey to help me with the research phase? Thanks in advance.

Nine Years Ago: Sweet & Savory Tomato Jam, Morning Glory CakeCreamy Homemade Ricotta
Eight Years Ago: English Flapjacks, Concord Grape Muffins
Seven Years Ago: Perfect Scrambled Eggs, Chocolate Snaps
Six Years Ago: Blackberry Conserves, Thoughts on a Clear Blue Day
Five Years Ago: Apple Breakfast Bars, Hazelnut Thin Crisp Cookies
Four Years Ago: Sunday Evening Thoughts, When Life Imitates Art
Three Years Ago: Honey Spice Cake
Two Years Ago: Honey Chamomile Cake, Crispy Roasted Chickpeas, Roasted Butternut Squash
One Year Ago: Homemade English Muffins, Bella’s Honey Cake, Jennie’s Pot Roast, Homemade Cherry Pop Tarts


  • Michelle

    I am in my year of firsts. This will be my first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my husband. I do not have young children so it may be easier for me. I kept the Christmas tree up until a week before my husband died. He didn’t want me to take it down like I usually did at New Years. Knowing it would be his last Christmas I left it up until a week before he died at the end of January. We thought he would live until summer but it was not to be.

    I will always remember your post about your husbands death. I think you had a picture of your wedding rings. I couldn’t believe it had happened. I cried that day for you and your daughter’s,

    If we were closer I would welcome you and your children to celebrate with us.

  • Leslie Redman

    Caregiving for elderly parents also tends to result in a sense of isolation for these events as it is difficult to travel to see others or go out.

  • Teri

    You’re always welcome at out Southern California Thanksgiving table! Your writing has been an inspiration and a comfort to me over the years. I’m sure I speak for all your followers when I say, we value you too. By the way, it’s never too soon to talk of snow!

  • Natalie

    I was just going to write the same thing as Teri did above. Over the 30 years my husband and I have been married, we’ve welcomed many to our Thanksgiving table. Some were people with no family nearby, others were new friends, and others we felt compelled to invite. We live on the beautiful central coast of CA and would love to have you and your sweet girls. It broke my heart to read your post. Hugs to you, Jenny.

  • Daren

    Yes what you say resonates deeply with me. December is my bad month, with my wife’s birthday, my wedding anniversary and Christmas. My wife, Mandy, was Mrs Christmas with the loft and shed full of decorations ready to transform the house. Now, nearly 4 years after her death and with a new partner, I still find it so difficult to pick myself up and get involved with the spirit of the season.
    Being part of a Widow’s group has helped. Here in the UK we have WAY (Widowed and Young) and being part of this group of people has helped me to know that I’m not alone in how I feel. That grief is part of many and it’s okay to talk about it and to talk about our loved ones.
    Hugs to you and your family.

  • farmerpam

    Yeah, holidays have been morphing into something so different from the past. Not that it’s bad, just different. As I grow older I see this thing called life with it’s constant changes.

  • Jennie

    “not bad, just different”—that’s exactly what I was trying to say here. Sometimes different just takes a lot of getting used to… xo-JP

  • Laura Lee

    We’re in Westchester and it’s usually just the 4 of us for holidays. My Mother is dead now but even when she was here she chose to spend holidays with my sister who I no longer speak with. My husband’s family is in Ireland. It’s weird, I try to hold on to the Italian culinary traditions at least but holidays are lonely and seem to lack something as an adult. Wish you could join us too.