Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Thanksgiving to Remember Forever

I know this post is a little crazy. My second Thanksgiving post in January!? What is going on?

Here's the thing. This year's Thanksgiving was very special, and very different. What made it so special is the same reason I never got around to posting about it way back when. My dad was in the hospital. In fact, by the time Thanksgiving came around, he had been in there for almost 7 weeks straight, with a long list of major complications, one after the other. We really were not at all sure what Thanksgiving would bring, so we just couldn't plan for it. Everything was so uncertain.

The biggest overall problem my dad was having was that he just couldn't force himself to eat. For months. He lost almost a third of his body weight, and that alone was making his whole system very weak and vulnerable. We were trying everything we could to force him to eat (and, to be fair, he was trying too!). And then, just two days before Thanksgiving, the hospital staff delivered a sad little hospital pancake to my dad's room for breakfast and he took one look at it and said "That actually looks good. I think I want to eat that," and ate the whole damned thing! Friends, this doesn't sound like such a big deal, but trust me, it was. 

So, we went ahead and got to work on some last minute Thanksgiving. For the non-vegans, we just ordered their food from Whole Foods. Ordering food was definitely a first for our do-it-yourself family, but this was a year of firsts. We reserved a room in the hospital where the nurses usually learn new computer skills and transformed it into a festive little space for our holiday dinner. 

With very little time and wanting to keep my life simple, I went out and got myself a Field Roast Celebration Roast. No shame in that! Truth be told, I really love Field Roast so much, and I was very happy with this as an entree. I browned up the slices first for more yumminess.

My mom made her special and delicious Cranberry Sauce. Also, you can see how we decorated with fall leaves and squashes and persimmons. It was really pretty. My mom even went to the drug store and bought those funny little battery-operated fake candles - so that we could have the candle effect but not set off the fire alarm in the hospital!

I made up a simple batch of stir-fried green beans with lemon and garlic. So simple, so fresh, and so good. I love green beans. Plus, green beans remind me of my grandparents, so it felt especially perfect to have them on the table for Thanksgiving. I always miss my grandparents a lot on Thanksgiving. This table cloth is some of the fabric my grandma brought home from Ghana, after their time there in the Peace Corps.

My aunt Laura made a huge and delicious green salad. She and her partner eat mega tons of salad and she is quite a salad pro.

Here's the whole scene in our little "conference room, " while we are skyping with my cousin and her husband in Florida. The hospital staff told us to put up a sign that said "Reserved for Family Meeting 5:00-8:00pm" Ha ha! It was a great "family meeting" indeed. We even brought wine, and a hot water kettle for post-dinner coffee and tea, and some dessert wine - my dad really loves dessert wine.

Here's my whole plate of holiday goodness (festive paper plates!). Oh yeah, of course there were mashed potatoes too... because Thanksgiving = mashed potatoes. Luckily, we live very near the hospital, so I was able to cook everything up and drive over and arrive with it all still piping hot!

For dessert I made a Pumpkin Pie. I think it was probably the best pumpkin pie I've ever made. I used the same recipe as always (Voluptuous Vegan/Vegan Pie in the Sky), but the squash I used this year was extra delicious and flavorful. Plus, you know how it is. Sometimes the cooking gods are with you, and sometimes they're not. This year, I got lucky.

And, amazingly, my sweet dad sat there in his wheelchair and ate a proper Thanksgiving meal while the rest of us stared with awe and wonder and joy. Truly, to see him eat a plate of food felt like a miracle. I'm so happy and relieved and grateful to report that my dad is home from the hospital, eating like a champ, putting on weight, walking with a cane, doing his physical therapy, and is back to work contemplating the mysteries of the universe (he is an astrophysicist). I love him so much. 

I know it seems like Thanksgiving-in-the-hospital would go down in history as one of the hardest and most miserable holidays, but instead, it was quite the opposite. I think this was possibly one of my favorite Thanksgiving celebrations ever. Truly, each of us felt such gratitude in our hearts, and such joy at the simple pleasure of being together and eating together. That was enough. In fact, it was so much.


  1. This post made me teary, Amey! I'm so relieved to hear that your dad is doing better. This will definitely be a Thanksgiving to remember. Times like that pull into focus what is really important in this life.

  2. What a beautiful post, Amey. The love in your family is truly awe-inspiring. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to your Dad!

  3. This was such a pleasure to read! I'm so happy that your Dad is making such a great recovery. I bet all the love and support from your family is really contributing to that.
    How wonderful that you were allowed to host a thanksgiving dinner in the hospital! It really does look like a really special occasion :)

  4. [ Smiles ] There is no other food that is healthier than vegan food!

  5. Love your illustrations!

  6. I am so glad your dad is doing well, and that you got to have a magical family Thanksgiving.

  7. What a sweet story! I'm so glad your dad is on the mend and back home!

  8. That's wonderful news Amey. You have such a beautiful family.

  9. I am so happy that your father is doing better! It's times like these that really put the "thanks" in Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing your wonderful family with us!

  10. susan7:27 AM

    What a great story. I'm so happy he is home and on the mend.

  11. this post warmed my heart. what a beautiful feast you created and i'm so glad to hear your father is doing better!

  12. I love you! I'm so so so happy to hear that your dad is doing better.

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  14. Anonymous12:40 PM

    Aww, I can totally relate! My dad had surgery the Monday after Thanksgiving, and I wasn't able to get down there (Florida) till that Tuesday. Even though I made a little make-up Thanksgiving the following Sunday, it was really special to get together with them and my sis, and neice and nephew in the midst of all that seeing daddy vulnerable. He's had some complications as well, but is hopefully now on the path to getting back to himself too. Glad you guys had a nice time too. Hugs. ~Ty

  15. This is the best Thanksgiving post ever. So beautiful and full of love. I hope your dad continues to grow stronger each day. As always, I love your illustrations.


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