Memories and Thanksgiving

Take Time to Cherish Yours

By: Karin Pauly

Thanksgiving is a bittersweet time of year for me now. As I get older, I notice and am thankful for so many of the little things. The aroma of our meals, the beauty of our landscape, and the hugs and smiles of my loved ones. It is a more peaceful and easy time for me as my children are grown, and my parents have passed away. It wasn’t that long ago, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my aging parents, with the stress of caregiving weighing on the experience. Now Nancy and Chuck are gone, and even though I am grieving, I love and am thankful for the memories of Thanksgivings past.

My family, while I was growing up was far from perfect. In fact, there were mental health and addiction issues, and my parents were divorced after 32 years of marriage. Some holidays we fought; we were definitely not a Currier and Ives postcard. I am sure many people can relate to this because no family is perfect, and Thanksgiving and Christmas can be extremely stressful. Depression sets in for many and suicides are on the rise. For caregivers, these challenges may be even more prevalent.

Even with the challenges and memories of the difficult times, I have some beautiful memories of Thanksgiving I would like to share with you. My hope is that this will spark the precious memories you have of Thanksgivings past, and offer you ideas of what to pay attention to next week as you celebrate.

Memories I cherish….

  • Nancy’s meals were amazing. They took her 2 days to prepare, 2 ovens, and 2 refrigerators – and we had a small family. Pie crusts were homemade, sweet potatoes were candied with a special sauce, there were 2 dressings, sage and oyster, each made from 3+ recipe cards. Herbs and spices were sautéed in broth or sprinkled into recipes meticulously with her artistic hands. Her Thanksgiving meals were truly a reflection of her artistry.
  • We went to a community church service the evening before Thanksgiving. Because my father was a Lutheran pastor, I always went to his church and heard him speak. And even though I loved listening to him preach, I enjoyed going into neighboring churches for the first time – the Baptist, the Methodist, the Catholic, the Community churches to see their beauty and experience their worship.
  • My parents always had an “Ideals Thanksgiving” magazine sitting around. Even though we often didn’t pick it up, it was so heartwarming to see.
  • Nancy would buy a Christmas puzzle for us to work on between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am now starting this tradition again in my home. We put together puzzles while Nancy was in her last days and hours, and doing this now reminds me of her.
  • Fancy crystal and china. We even had wine sometimes with our meal which was amazing as my dad wasn’t a big fan of alcohol.


  • Once grown up and married, I cherish the Thanksgiving memories of my husband’s family. His loving parents, many siblings, our in-laws, nieces and nephews, and our children. The noisy ones when the children were little, a packed house, and continuous teasing, laughing and love.

 My hope for you this Thanksgiving is that you take time to cherish your “little things”, your memories. Take note of them, live in the moment, and be intentional about your love.

I am thankful for you, my readers, and for your kindness and caring for others.