This holiday season is bitter sweet. I’m thankful for all God has done for me, but I have to admit I am missing Mom.  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Mom knew we had to always have a Christmas tree and decorations because we loved decorating and celebrating the holidays.  It’s hard when someone you love is no longer there to celebrate the holidays with you.  Mom was my best friend.  She loved to cook for her family and friends, and we took full advantage of it.  I never hung out in the kitchen with Mom to see how she made our favorite dressing or desserts.  My parents have a huge great room, so I usually sat on the couch watching television, and talking to her as she cooked.  Now, I wish I had paid attention.  For those who know how old I am, you probably won’t believe me when I say that I have never cooked Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner before.  Last year was the first time Mom was not here with us for the holidays, so I baked a pecan pie, my mother-in-law made dressing and a sweet potato pie, and my sisters cooked desserts and other dishes.  This year, however, it’s just me, Matt and SJ.  Now, I am faced with having to cook dinner for my family.  I held back a lot of tears while cooking because I do miss my mom, but I refused to spend the day crying.  I spent the day thanking God for the years He gave me with my mom, thanking God for my wonderful kitchen to cook good things for my family, and thanking God for my sisters, father, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends.

I made a sweet potato pie, which was not firm at all.  I had to put it back in the oven and cook it a little more for it to get firm.  I didn’t complain, because it turned out delicious! I made a pumpkin pie, some bread pudding with bourbon sauce, which was slamming (I have to share that recipe with you a little later).  Matt made a juicy, tender turkey, and I made cornbread dressing and some veggies.

Thanksgiving 2013 025Thanks to my oldest sister who labored with me on the phone — she apparently paid attention while Mom was cooking.  I look at my daughter and wish my mom could see her, because she looks just like my little sister, who is known as my mom’s twin.  In the midst of not having Mom here, it is amazing that I can only imagine her in heaven having a blast and maybe even seeing me cooking.  She loved God and was not afraid to die.  She even woke up once in the hospital after a nap, looked at my little sister on the couch and said, “I’m still here? Girl, I thought I was in heaven!”  That was funny to Mom, but not to us who wanted her here.  She was not afraid of death and those who knew her knew that she loved God.  She talked about God like He was her friend whom she had known forever.  That gives me something to be thankful about, knowing my Mom was not afraid to die and even welcomed it so that she could finally see her Friend, God himself.   I pray for each of you today, specifically those who are missing a loved one today.  I finally shed a few tears while writing this, but they are tears of joy, tears that say, “Thank you God for giving me someone who taught me well, who loved others, and who gave herself selflessly to others.”  I thank God for the example of a woman of God who showed me the love of God in every word she spoke.  Today, I am thankful for family — those who are here with me physically and those who are with me spiritually.  Take time today and everyday to thank God for what He has done in your life.  Take nothing for granted and live life to its fullest.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Shayla Jay

Shayla Jay


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  1. Anonymous

    Happy Thanksgiving Shayla! Don’t cry. Know that her work here on earth was done and that she is looking down saying to herself what a beautiful woman and mother you have become. Take little SJ into the kitchen with you when you cook, who knows she may be that Chef in the making…..Be thankful your are so Blessed!

    • shaylajay

      Thank you, and SJ always hangs out in the kitchen with me. Matt and I were talking about getting her a kitchen set for Christmas! Great minds think alike!

  2. Rosemary Tate

    Your article is very touching and inspiring. You are surely a woman of faith who refuses to allow the enemy to bring discouragement. KEEP LOOKING UP!

    • shaylajay

      Thank you so much. There is no time to be discouraged! 🙂