Thanksgiving with Grandpa’s Girl


Tablescape design and photography by Betsy Empey. Shared with permission. 

My mom is spending a week with us at Thanksgiving! And we couldn’t be more excited! I have four young children and lately my cooking has taken a turn for the worse. My meal planning consists of survival mode: peanut butter, pasta and cheese, scrambled eggs and toast. I honestly asked my mom if she would like to eat out this Thanksgiving because then we wouldn’t have to do the work. And like a good momma, she said, “Let’s do a traditional Thanksgiving and I will help you!”

I have to admit, Thanksgiving dinner is not my thing. I have a low acid stomach that upsets easily and cooking and cleaning is not my favorite pastime. I’ve been watching FoodTube and trying to plan out how to cook Thanksgiving dinner and have it look lovely. I’m getting inspiration for my tablescape from Mesa Washington homemaker and blogger Lanette Empey, Instagram @betsysheartstrings and I love the use of her turkey tureen and matching serving dishes.

Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant.-Tony Robbins.

The approach of Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving has me remembering my Grandpa Stephens. He was of a cherished generation – men and women who grew up during the depression, who didn’t have anything and everything they had, they made it from scratch. The bravery of their generation in WWII is legendary. What I love about my Grandpa Stephens is he wasn’t only a big hero, he was a small hero – by which I mean he did serve his country but he came home and served his family the rest of his days.

Thanksgiving at the Stephens was memorable because my Grandpa did as much in the kitchen as anybody else. He had an apron on and was chopping, mashing, cooking, serving, doing dishes, the whole bit. My grandparents knew how to put on a Thanksgiving spread. Everything tasted like it had all of their whole souls wrapped into each bite. It was so rich and flavorful. Maybe I remember it for being more than it was simply because of the love that I felt there.

I don’t know why I was so fortunate to be born to parents and grandparents who loved their children and made every effort to make their lives and their holidays comfortable and filled with love. Life isn’t fair and I think this is especially true to children in the world who, through no fault of their own are suffering. Children who grow up without the comfort a home can give and then turn around and make life better for them and their own children are heroes.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to put away, even for just one day, our disappointments, heartaches and troubles. During the colder months, it isn’t hard to find something in our lives to appreciate: a working furnace, warm water and warm clothing – as well as those known and unknown to us who work day in and day out to improve the quality of our lives in education, medicine and food distribution. With, it is so easy to find a way to give those among us who are lacking basic comforts this holiday season.

Whether you celebrate what you are thankful for by dining out or having a traditional meal in your home, I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope that the spirit of the holiday will enter your heart and you will feel how truly amazing it is to be alive and, to have the opportunity to change others’ lives for the better if we will open our heart to them. We cannot control everything that happens to us in our lives, but we can choose to become better for it and leave the world better for the people we come in contact with throughout our own lives.

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by writer Alicia Walters, contributor to print and digital magazines.

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