Well, I did it…I survived my first Thanksgiving without my husband…he was actually not by my side last year either…it was a year ago that he enjoyed his last Thanksgiving dinner in his hospital bed. I was dreading the day…fearful that I would shed a lot of tears on my turkey dinner…but, I held off.

My husband always made the best Thanksgiving dinners. We would argue over the menu…sometimes months in advance…about how much food to buy…how many courses to serve…what pies to prepare.

This year, I couldn’t decide which pies to make…so I bought three pies…I bought the pies at a local farmer’s market instead of baking my own. There was cranberry apple pie (my favorite…although, I thought there should have been a bit more tartness with the cranberry accents), blueberry crumb pie (another scrumptious pie), and pecan pie (my son’s favorite). They were delicious pies…only everyone was filled to the brim after the appetizers and multi, multi, multi course dinner. Soooooo, I now have a freezer full of pies.

I missed my husband…oh, how I missed him. Wish he could have been here for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving was always his holiday…his time to shine. I hope he was watching down on our family on Thursday. I hope he was pleased with our Thanksgiving table of fantastic fare.

I used all the utensils that he bought over the years…the large serving spoon for the stuffing…the large serving fork for the turkey…his favorite gravy boat for the turkey gravy (he bought the gravy boat just for Thanksgiving dinner…I remember when he brought it home…he was so proud when his kitchenware search turned up successful.)

I took out the sprial ham holder that he also purchased one year to hold the Honey-Baked Ham that we serve annually alongside the turkey. I emptied the dining room closet and took out all the holiday serving platters and festive serving bowls that he cherished so much…one for the turkey, one for the salad, one for the roasted vegetables.

My son took care of the hors d’oeuvres…following in his father’s big footsteps (my husband wore size 14 shoes, so my son has BIG steps to fill) he picked out some crusty breads at Whole Foods Market…and bought the artichoke and crab dips we all love…then he brushed the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkled them with kosher salt…put the bread under the broiler…just like his dad used to do. Everything was perfectly prepared…his dad would have been proud.

And when dinner was over…and everyone went home…I washed up the dishes…dried off the serving utensils and platters and bowls…and put them back in the dining room closet. Ready for next year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

While I’m sad my husband is no longer here to celebrate Thanksgiving with me…it is the family rituals (and all the kitchen utensils) that he left me that make this holiday so special. My bereavement counselor was right when she said that as time passes it is the good memories that remain…the good memories we learn to savor…and for that come each November I will have much to be thankful for.