My mom loved a good party. And she gave some of the best. I can remember being about 5 not a few Sunday mornings waking before anyone else and wandering downstairs to find all the residue from a successful cocktail party– filled ashtrays, empty nut bowls, canape trays stacked in the kitchen sink and martini glasses, some still with an olive, to which I helped myself (maybe that’s why I do not drink alcohol).

I think Mom’s favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. She loved Easter and Christmas, too, but Thanksgiving was when she really pulled out all the stops. She invited anyone and everyone, there was not an empty chair around our food-filled dining room table. Grandparents, neighbors and their children. She loved nothing more than a house stuffed with congenial friends, laughter and good food.

Preparations began very early, my grandmother and mother stuffing and basting the enormous bird, all manner of vegetables, scalloped oysters, and pies. The Macy’s Parade started at 9 and my brother and I were glued to the television until Santa came along, I imagined myself in the freezing cold marching sassily with one of the heart-pumping bands, or cozily wrapped in a thick, warm coat waving from a float, or even maybe hanging onto the ropes of one of those amazing balloons. And the luscious mouth-watering aromas wafting from the kitchen with snippets of “No, I’ll do that, ” or “keep stirring! It’s lumpy if you stop stirring!” or “did you remember the pearl onions in the green beans?”

The guests began arriving, some wandering off to find my dad, my grandfather and company in the den, or striding back to the kitchen catching an apron off the back of the swinging door to see what needed doing. The voices and chatter finally melded into a constant white noise sparkling with laughter, the clatter of dishes and “where’s the gravy boat? I always put it in here…”

Finally everyone was called to the table, ambling amiably, finishing off their drinks and marveling at the heavily-laden side boards. We all stood at our places until everyone arrived, then sat and Dad asked the grace. After his deep, gravelly, “Amen,” chatter and laughter resumed, dishes being passed back and forth with the chink and scrape of silverware on china. At the end we barely could even think of pie, but of course we did more than think of it. Regretfully? No. We did not care at all how full we were. As Dad would say, “A bumble bee could play with me now.”

So this year my family is greatly diminished. Mother and Dad have passed on. My son will be with his girlfriend and her family, my brother’s wife will have her mother and sister, perhaps an additional friend or two. Maybe the two groups will combine, who knows…

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I will watch the Macy’s Parade, eat the two pies I will have made– a (very) small pecan pie and a turkey (maybe chicken?) pot pie, maybe even splurge with home-made crust.

And then we will venture to my favorite place in the world to walk off having over-stuffed ourselves.

The beach.

“A bumblebee could play with me now…”