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Thanksgiving is the best holiday

It’s my favorite holiday. I love every aspect of it — the before Thanksgiving list-making, the opportunity to shop in grocery stores I usually do not visit, and the sense of overall goodwill and well-being that seems to exist.

No one is required to offer up any gifts, other than a ready appetite — or a designated “dish to pass.”

I love the moment when I order the absolutely perfect 22-pound turkey. I look forward to the dialogue about whether it will fit in the roasting pan. You would think by this time we would know what fits, but we just never seem to be sure. I enjoy purchasing a variety of aromatic herbs and spices I would not otherwise consider and buying those not-very-good-for-you fried onions for the green bean casserole. Although this year I had a request for a “healthy” green bean casserole, and I found one.

At our Thanksgiving table, family and friends convene over delicious food and tell their stories. It usually starts with questions like, “What are you most thankful for?” or “What brings you the most happiness?”

We will have three grandchildren at our turkey-laden table this year, and I intend to prepare them to ask a few unanticipated questions of the elders who will be present. Conversation starters such as, “How did you celebrate Thanksgiving when you were my age?” and “What about my mom/dad drove you crazy when she/he was a kid?”

My long-married daughter will probably retell the story about her college boyfriend who, after they broke up, and she asked what he would miss most about their relationship, replied, “Your mom’s mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.” I will think about Karl this year and melt a little extra butter in the warmed milk I add to the potatoes in recognition of love lost.

Our 15-year-old granddaughter is earnestly vegan, so our T-day menu has new additions. Until I started asking her the right questions, I did not realize tofu had so much potential. I went to a website that promised “20 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes That Will Make You Forget All About Turkey.” I rather doubt that. But there was one recipe for a roasted asparagus and ricotta tart I’m fairly sure she will like. But then it’s hard to be absolutely certain about anything with teenagers, so I plan to have five kinds of pie available.

Our Thanksgiving adventure this year involves between eight and 11 people in residence for five days. There will be lots of eating interlaced with physical activities. I am ready with yard and board games that cross the age span. I have a turkey coloring page and a small box of crayons for each family member — an activity that will be led by our 6-year-old grandson. I have colored a lot with him over the years, and he is very directive about color choices.

Which brings me back to a final and important recognition regarding Thanksgiving — we will all have a tableful of choices. In your home, and at your Thanksgiving table, may goodwill and good conversations be at the top of the list.

Sharon Johnson is a retired health educator. Reach her at sharon@rbtrv.org.