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Monday, November 25, 2019

your people

I was in the market this week, standing in line with a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes and a pound of butter and I had a flashback of a Thanksgiving when we first moved to the Pacific Northwest. We had left our tight-knit village of family and friends and knew no one here. Our home was in a small cul de sac and that holiday, we invited our neighbors to join us for dinner or any part of the day that they could stop by.

L and I were lucky enough to live next door to Shereen, Matt and their two kids.  We became close and we decided to host Thanksgiving together at our house. Growing up, we always had *just enough* food on the table. This holiday, my first holiday preparing a Thanksgiving meal, I wanted to be sure that we had plenty of food if our guests wanted heaping helpings. This is how we ended up making enough potatoes for thirty people.

We started with a five pound bag of potatoes but that didn't seem like enough so the guys went out and bought another five pound bag. I still didn't think it was enough but Shereen, very logically said "I REALLY think ten pounds of potatoes is more than enough." Then we went out and bought another five pound bag. That morning, in addition to the turkey, fresh cranberries, cornbread stuffing (plain, without no fruit or meat!), rolls, and green beans,  we had potatoes in bowls and pots all over covering every flat surface. Nothing quite bonds you like cooking with someone. Taking the wet, pink-tinged, gizzard bag out of the turkey together is something I will never forget. We laughed so hard, that I forgot about what I was missing back home. Later, as we sat down for dinner with a circle of friends, I remember looking around the table and thinking how lucky we were to live on a street with these incredible neighbors.

As we sat down to dessert,  I thought of our friends and family back in Massachusetts who were now three hours ahead and at this point in the day, bundled up for a traditional walk in the cold air after pumpkin pie or curled up in front of the fire playing a rousing game or just talking with friends and family sipping coffee at the dining room table, long after it was cleared, listening to the guys laughing in the kitchen as they cleaned up, giving us a moment to relax with each other. I missed that. I missed them.

But at that moment, instead of wallowing, I realized that my people will always be my people. No matter how far we roam from each other, I know that they are a call or text away and that the next time I am in Massachusetts at a dining room table or settled into a lawn chair by a fire or enjoying brunch  by the sea, that we will pick up our relationship exactly where we were before. Being apart, doesn't mean your hearts are. Those things that bond you that make no sense to anyone else will always be there. The way you fit together when you hug will always be there. Maybe you aren't together this year. Maybe you're alone for the first time or circumstances changed this year. It can be hard to remember what you had before and to want that back.

Here's what you need to remember: What you had will always be part of your history, part of your story. How wonderful that this is part of you!  If you have a tradition or an incident that reminds you of someone, let them know. Call/text, send them a note saying "I am so thankful that you are in my life. Every time I ___________, it reminds me of you, of us and I hope that today of all days, that you're happy." I hear some of you thinking "That isn't going to work in my case." Maybe they passed on or it's irreconcilable differences, wish them well in your heart and appreciate what you had at that time. You have a new normal now and your heart has an open space for new people to become your people.

Wherever you are spending the holiday, whoever you are with, I hope that you feel happy and loved and that you have as much mashed potatoes as your heart desires.

In case you have a considerable amount of potatoes left over too, here are twenty recipes for leftover mashed potatoes. 

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