It’s Thanksgiving Day in Canada. This holiday, more than any other, makes me think of and miss my mom. She was born in 1930 in Germany. The deprivations and horrors of Hitler’s regime and the Second World War filled her childhood and teenage years. For good and for ill, those experiences shaped my mother.
Although we were a poor family, my mother always managed to put on a lavish Thanksgiving dinner. Every inch of the table would be covered with dish after delicious dish of turkey, stuffing, vegetables, potatoes, sauces and gravies followed by at least three desserts.
My mother would sit beaming at the head of the table and survey everything that was on offer. And then she would say, “We have so much to be thankful for. During the war, we never had enough to eat. I remember serving my father horsemeat once. He didn’t ask where I had gotten the meat and I didn’t tell him. The milkman’s horse had died and I was there to get some.”
At that point in her story, she’d stop and stare off into the distance, remembering the serendipitous moment when she got a portion of a dead horse. And then she would resume, “Now look at all that we have. We have enough food. We have a roof over our heads. We are safe in our beds at night. We are so lucky.”
And we are.