My First Thanksgiving Without Mom and Dad

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Daddy went home to be with Jesus in April. Mama passed on in December of 2016. This will be my first Thanksgiving and Christmas without either one of them on this earth with me.

I thought I was doing ok. I’m hosting Thanksgiving for over a dozen family members tomorrow. But I sat all morning with no motivation to prepare.

I love Thanksgiving. I love having my family over. But this is a tender time. And I mostly want to cuddle up with a blanket and have a cry.

I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people in our country right now dealing with similar feelings. It’s hard to enter the holidays after losing a loved one. It’s hard even when a loved one is still with you, when they don’t know you anymore.

Something about these special days, and all the memories they evoke, wring our souls and emotions come out that we didn’t even know were there.

I talked to my husband this afternoon about my struggles to dive into the work of Thanksgiving. Part of me felt like canceling. He gave me wise advice. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “It’s okay to have your emotions. But you’re parents valued Thanksgiving and this is a way to honor them.”

I hadn’t actually thought of that. But it’s true. They invested in it and enjoyed it. They would want us to keep the traditions going and keep the family ties strong.

And then he said, “Call Amy (our daughter) and get her help.” She was planning to come help anyway, but scheduling a time to start was good. So I called her and then took a little nap. And then when she arrived it spurred me on to start. It was a comfort to have her alongside me in the kitchen.

I mixed up Mama’s Colorado Salad in her old Tupperware mixing bowl. And I thought about how we always had it at Thanksgiving. Amy worked on the sweet potatoes and I cooked the cranberries. And as the berries bubbled and popped on the stove, a sense of peace settled in alongside all the emotions.

This isn’t an easy Thanksgiving. But, God willing, it can still be a good one. Mama and Daddy left us a legacy of love. Our house will be crowded with children and brothers and grandchildren tomorrow.

The scent of turkey roasting will stir a lifetime of memories. The fire will crackle in the fireplace. We will eat until we are too full and talk and laugh and sing until the guitar players’ fingers are too worn out. And maybe some of our emotions will seep out as tears.

But I’ll have grand babies to hold. And I will rock them and thank God for them and all His generous blessings. And I will thank God that I had parents that taught me about Jesus and loved us all so well.

God is gentle with those of us who are mourning. I pray that His presence is a comfort to you this season and that His tender mercies bless you and yours.

May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving as you rest in His love.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1



  1. As always, THANK YOU for being vulnerable enough to write your feelings and share them with those of us that are walking the Alzheimer’s Road with someone we love. Last year in the midst of caring for my 91 year old Dad, who broke his hip , and my 87 year old mom, who has no idea why Dad has a cane now, my oldest brother unexpectedly died. He was my hero and my shoulder through these hard days with mom and dad. I miss him terribly and the holidays are so hard now. I. too, have been having a difficult time getting motivated to host Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad will be brought by my middle brother and mom will never remember it but while she is here she will enjoy the food and laughter. I miss my mom – the mom that I knew for over 50 years. That mom is gone now and someone that looks like my mom will be here…. God bless you and yours and keep posting. You are a blessing to me and keep me from feeling so alone in all this.

  2. I’m with all of you on this unpredictable, emotional road called grief. May we always treasure the memories of happy times past AND be grateful for the opportunities God gives to make sweet new memories this Thanksgiving season. Love and prayers for each of you.

  3. My precious momma went home to be with Jesus on November 11. She struggled with mental illness most of her adult life, then developed dementia as she grew older. My sister and I spent last week planning her funeral and taking care of all the details that accompany death. This past Monday, my usual day to visit her, came, and I didn’t quite know what to do. All day I felt as if I were forgetting some thing. I puttered around my house all day. Feeling sad and a little lost.
    Today my house will be filled with lots of people for Thanksgiving dinner. It will be loud and we will all share our many blessings. And I’ll remember my momma.( I’ll probably cry as I stir the gravy. As that was always her job to make). And I will hug each a little longer. Grateful for each one.
    Your words have been such an encouragement and have blessed me time and time again. May your day be filled with great memories and God’s peace.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Barbara. I’m glad to hear you will have people around you today. I hope your day is filled with blessings. And I’m grateful to hear my words have been an encouragement to you! That so warms my heart. I hope you are able to enjoy making new memories as you remember your old ones. God bless you! ~Cheryl

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