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.
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.
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.