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Just because we're excited doesn't mean that we aren't scared and sometimes sad. The emotions come in waves and I've found that it's usually the small things, not the big ones, that turn me into a weepy mess.

I've been struggling with the thought that this is going to be our last Thanksgiving celebrating as a family, both immediate and extended. Between our oldest son graduating and starting his military career, and the other 4 of us being in Spain, I cannot think of when we will celebrate these very familiar November traditions again. I've been savoring each and every minute that we're together this week.

I live about 3 miles from where I grew up, and while my parents are not in that house any longer, we still gather at their home with my aunt & uncle, cousins, and sister & brother-in-law. At times there are extra folks around the table, sometimes it is relatively intimate, but we have always gathered and shared the holiday. Tomorrow, Mom & Dad's house will be loud, alive, and full of opinions and love. There will be 15 of us there, and we will eat too much and be reminded of how thankful and blessed we are.

In addition to the joy of the house full of family, Thanksgiving is a lot of fun for me because I love to cook, and I'm pretty good at it. After many years, I've learned my way around a kitchen and can make some delicious things with under-known ingredients. For example, I am making blue cheese for tomorrow's salad. Since I don't use any dairy, I use a base of cashew nuts and develop my flavor profile from ume plum vinegar, lemon juice, white miso paste, and kelp flakes. Aside from my clothing, toothbrush, cell phone, and car, I use the items in my kitchen more than anything else in my home: I have a Vitamix that is used several times daily; my mixing bowls live on top of my refrigerator for quick access; and I have a much-loved cast iron skillet in which I cook dinner most every night.

It is the cast iron skillet that triggered tears yesterday. I've had this damn thing for close to 20 years. It is seasoned and well-worn and I know the spots that--for some reason--cook faster than others. I just cannot figure out how to get it over to Spain with me. I suppose that I could box it up and leave it with the things that I will have shipped later, but we aren't planning on sending those boxes for a few years. I don't think that I can pack it in my carry-on bag (can't you see the TSA agents seeing that on the scanner?). Maybe I'll ship a box or two of these beloved things so that life will feel more familiar.

So while I am, of course, sad that we are scattering to the winds, I am also letting go of the accustomed and that is sad too.

cast iron skillet


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