There’s a mellowness that comes with the Winter light.

That enveloping cold you wander through wrapped in coats and scarves and hats.

That hunkering down for a journey towards Spring.

Thanksgiving is always the start of this for me.

I’m always back East for for the holiday.

And while I’m heading out to Jersey this winter morning, this year’s palpably (and painfully) different for me as it’s the first holiday since my mom’s passing in July.

It hit me hard then. It’s still difficult for me now.

As time passes for all of us, childhood fades in memory and our parents become more and more something to hold on to. My mom was all of that and more.

My brothers and I were better sons to my mom than brothers to each other through the years. We are close but these holidays are when we talk and get caught up. I don’t know any of their numbers by heart.

Family was more a core to move on from rather than a structure that we carried with us.

So I wonder about today.

I’ll do my thing.

Bring the wine and host an informal tasting. Introducing Etna, Manchuela, a bit of the Loire Valley and this year a sparkling mead from Quebec to this Jersey gathering.

Thanksgiving was never a magnet for my son and I.

We are very tight. But we have other connections, other celebration points that make this holiday is neither important nor necessary.

For my traditional family though, this was it—this and my Mom’s birthday–were the undeniable magnets that through my mom’s 70s and into he mid 90s, drew everyone together.

It was always less that she was the center of attention and more that she was the reason for being there.

We don’t obviously chose our families, but we do choose to make them important to us.

I’m learning as I get older that life is all in the greyness of these connections. The comforts we have from the multiplicity of friends, connections, communities and people we rub up against.

We play all these roles—employer, advisor, mentor, father, brother, uncle, significant other, lover, friend.

We connect with all of them in different ways. A large variable messy fabric of people that define our world.

Some through beliefs and work. Some through activities or faces at the gym or the wine shop. Some through history.

And then there’s family.

For me it’s not quite true that this is where I act myself or am the most comfortable, but its undeniably something that feels right.

That’s the health of it and maybe as inchoate as it sounds, that’s the strength.

Small talk that extends over so many years. Connections over a lifetime.

In some ways, a map of our lives.

At least a point on a timeline of where it begins. Or breadcrumbs on how it progresses.

I’m looking forward to the celebration around the dining room table.

A memorial to my mom absolutely, but maybe something more.

Food and wine and people with bonds. Some that have been here forever. Some just beginning.

It pays back if you let it. It works without much reason.

In the face of this really hard year especially for all of us as a nation. For me personally as a son loosing his last parent.

In the harsh reality of not having the matriarch at the table, I think it is even more important to insure that the bonds hold and find new momentum.

I’m feeling good about this.

It’s the time of life to build on what we have. I intend to do just that.

Have a great Thanksgiving all!