I’m laughing so hard; I can hardly breathe. Everyone is laughing: my Mom, my brothers, my sister and sisters-in-law, my children, and my nieces and nephews.
Picture this: it’s cold and blustery out on our family ranch in South Texas. It feels weird being there without Dad, who died the year before. For 15 years in a row, starting before we had our own kids, my siblings and our families came together at the ranch for Thanksgiving. My grandmothers even came in those early years when my children were small.
So why are we laughing? I suggested we do something different – something fun and creative – to counter the sadness of Dad being gone.
An epic hat exchange! I paired everyone up to make or buy a hat for the other person. My exchange was with my nephew, Jake, who was applying to colleges. So, I bought a black knitted beanie, printed color logos for every school he wanted, and sewed them all over the hat.
Jake’s hat for me was a tall, white chef’s cap with ‘Kitchen Bitch’ in bold letters across the band. Why is that funny? Because I’ve never cooked a meal in my life! I don’t cook – have never cooked – and my family knows I’m hopeless in the kitchen! The perfectly ironic hat for me.
There was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beanie that pulled down over my brother’s eyes, a vintage military helmet for my nephew who loved tanks and soldiers, hats for favorite teams, and Mom wearing two flowered hats because she was Mom and Grandma.
We laughed and laughed and then plopped down on the couch to take the best family photo I think we’ve ever taken. The joy was real, and I felt so incredibly grateful for my life and my family.
Now, Mom has passed on and most of the kids are grown, with partners of their own. My first grandchild is turning one and our family spends time reminiscing and laughing.
We talk about the epic hat exchange, how much we miss Mom and Dad, and all the fun times we’ve had together. We make plans for future reunions, with love in our hearts and smiles on our faces. That is the legacy of our parents.
I’m wishing you and your family a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving, making memories that live in your heart!
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