November: Giving Thanks for Food, Family and Fall

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By Michele D. Baker

As regular readers of Lifestyles After 50 will already know, I’m a cool weather gal, so I give thanks for the arrival of autumn and all that it brings. I live in the (very) hot South, although I was born outside Chicago – and I guess the weather where you’re born must stay in the blood, because I’ve always preferred the cooler temps, changing leaves, and rainy weather that accompany fall in the Midwest and East Coast.

A few years ago my older brother and I took a Thanksgiving trip to visit our dad and stepmother at their home in western Massachusetts. The leaves were nearly gone, and dad had built a nice fire in the living room with the big picture window. We took time each day to fill the 19 bird feeders – dad was a serious “birder” – and then we could enjoy watching them flock to the buffet we’d laid. His rural acreage must have been on a bird bulletin board, because we saw a flock of wild turkeys (they roosted in a big pine tree, creating a pocket of warmth with their combined body heat); chickadees; titmice, dozens of finches, sparrows and wrens; Downy woodpeckers; nuthatches galore; starlings; juncos and even a few fire-engine-red cardinals.

Related: From the Editor: Red Leaves, Dark Beer and Chocolate

I didn’t fully realize it then, but I had a lot to be thankful for. My stepmother was a great cook, and she had purchased a fresh local turkey from a farm nearby. We also feasted on squash and potatoes dug fresh from dad’s garden, and my younger brother and sister made a macaroni and cheese casserole using a recipe of our grandmother’s. The pumpkin pie also came from the bounty from the garden! 

After dinner, we all went out and crunched through the leaves around a lake nearby, laughing and enjoying each other’s company, pointing out trees that looked promising as Christmas trees and telling stories about when we were young. I have fond memories of that trip, as I think it was the last time all of us were in the same room together – dad died in 2021 after battling cancer for two years. As Thanksgiving rolls around again, I am reminded to practice gratitude for those things that matter most to me: food, family and fall. May you do the same. 

Until the next time, 

Michele