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Friday, November 26, 2010

FTD Thanksgiving - With A Little Help

I love the holidays, but I am always glad when they are over.

A Turkey!
The holidays are stressful for most everyone. I have always had a particularly difficult time during the holiday season. For me, with FTD, they are even more stressful today than ever before. Everything seems to be intensified during the holidays. It is a time for old traditions, and forging new ones. It is a time for family and friends. The holidays are loaded with memories. I think that is why the holidays are so important. It is this association with the memories of all of the holidays past that make them stressful, and depressing, and sad, and happy, and wonderful. It is a time when everything in the present is magnified by everything in the past.
Another Turkey!

For me with bvFTD, every holiday is now my last holiday. This Thanksgiving is my last Thanksgiving.  Those close to me think this is a depressing thought, but for me it is just reality. That is simply how it is living with FTD.

I Made This Wine!
As I was reflecting on the upcoming Thanksgiving feast, planning for weeks on cooking a huge 20 pound turkey. What kind of potatoes to make this year - note to self... NEVER add Parmesan cheese to the mashed potatoes like we did last year cuz the texture is slimy and gross - actually that was two years ago cuz last year I was very sick with Swine Flu and did not celebrate Thanksgiving at all. But I digress... Should I bake a couple pumpkin pies from scratch using real pumpkins? Yes - because I love making pumpkin pie. Nobody likes green bean casserole, but maybe a sweet corn casserole instead. When I make the ham this year I gotta remember not to use quite so many cloves, and a little more brown sugar with the ginger ale. Must have cranberry sauce, and maybe make my famous cranberry mousse. (Not this year!) Can't forget the stuffing. Keep it simple with the stuffing. I had been planning this holiday for several weeks, and looking forward to it. I love to cook, and it is rare that I get to cook a complete dinner for six, or even 8, or maybe 10 people. It is even more fun when other cooks help with the cooking. We were looking forward to adding some good southern cooking. The more the merrier! This holiday was going to be one of the best with almost everyone I love all sitting around the same table enjoying the feast we all put together. This is my last Thanksgiving.

A Beautiful Table!
Of course it being the holidays disaster struck. As usual during the holidays something goes wrong. It seems that this is the time of year when some take it upon themselves to do everything in their powers to ruin everyone else's holidays. I guess it is just a part of the season, but I never get used to it. I am always surprised how cruel and hurtful people can get during this time of year. Anyway - A few days after I had spent about $300 shopping for up to ten people for a huge Thanksgiving feast which would feature a twenty pound turkey as the centerpiece I was informed that I would only be serving three people for dinner. This big feast had been planned together for a month or more in advance. It had taken me weeks to plan for the holiday dinner. Planning is now very difficult for me. I tend to run, and rerun, and envision my plans over and over to get them firmly entrenched in my mind. After planning and preparing for weeks it is very difficult for me to change plans on short notice. I just fall apart. When plans change at the last minute my stress levels go up right through the ceiling.

Pumpkin Pie!
I am blessed after all of the planning, hurt, and regrouping, to be able to say that most of the people who I love most, and who love me, will still be sharing my table at Thanksgiving. The four of us will feast on the replacement 12 pound turkey, and still have all the trimmings. The pies are wonderful, but I am sure we will burn something, and enjoy it anyway as always. That is half the fun of the feast. I will be eating leftovers well into next summer, and sending a ton of food along with each when they leave. My food budget is blown for the month. We will still have enough food for ten people, or more!

This is my last Thanksgiving, and it will be wonderful. I will always remember who sat at my table, as I remember every Thanksgiving from years past - both the good and the bad. The memories of the songs in our hearts, the smiles, the laughter, and the wine will last forever - but I will never be the same. I will never be here again. Thanksgiving will never be the same for me. Every holiday is my last.

Every holiday is my last holiday because I have FTD. Frontotemporal Dementia is a progressive disease. There is no cure. The is no treatment. Every day I am just a little worse than I was the day before. Every day more of my brain is turning to Lime Jell-O. This Thanksgiving is the last Thanksgiving I will ever be the way I am today. Tomorrow I will not be the same. Next year I will not be the same. This is my last Thanksgiving, until the next one. By next Thanksgiving my disease will have progressed a whole year. At best I may be 90% of what I am today, maybe much less. I may still be able to cook, or help with the cooking - I may not. I already needed help to prepare the feast. Others may still not be able to notice anything is wrong with me. Maybe they will. The change is inevitable - slow and steady - or in fits and jumps. However it happens, it will happen, and next Thanksgiving will be different. This is my last Thanksgiving as I am now.

That is why I now look at every holiday as my last - because I am changing, and I will never be here as I am today. By next year I will be a different me. While others my age have many more Thanksgivings to look forward to, this is my last. Every holiday is my last. I cherish the present more than ever before, and am happy to share my Thanksgiving with the ones I love the most. I have much to be thankful for this year.

Oh, and the feast was feasted upon, and merry merriment was made, and all were stuffed full of turkey with all the trimmings. We almost burned the rolls, but thanks to a last minute save when my son remembered they were still in the over not this year. It is a tradition to burn the rolls. My youngest son and I had a "Ham Throwdown".  His Honey-Mustard Ham recipe vs. my Ginger-Ale Brown Sugar & Clove Ham recipe. Of course I won, but it was REALLY close. Both are delicious! We may have to try combining the two recipes and see how it tastes.

Real Friends Do The Dishes!
Everything came out great. Great food - Great children - and Great Friends! Some friends stopped by after dinner just for a visit. Kroozer got along well with Samantha, my surrogate dog. We played some Guitar Hero, and Mario. I do OK with Guitar Hero, but my symptoms make the racing game much more difficult, but it is still fun. We stayed up late watching a couple movies. It was a wonderful last Thanksgiving ...until the next one. I am thankful.

Just a note about Kroozer. He was having a wonderful time once he got used to all the extra commotion in "his" house. He was spoiled by everyone. He got fed so many little treats from the feast that he finally puked. Now you know it is a really great Thanksgiving when the skunk barfs! Another new tradition has been forged.

Today is now Black Friday. The dishes are all done. The house is quiet.  Kroozer is checking to make sure nothing is missing. I survived yesterday just fine, and though I was aware several times of my FTD symptoms they were not totally debilitating. Forgetting where I set something, stress, and getting steps out of order were the most noticeable to me. Of course dinner, and the whole holiday as mentioned above, took much longer to plan, and I had to hibernate a few days to totally re-plan it at the last minute. My kitchen was delightfully chaotic. My boys, our friend, and I all worked like a well-oiled machine. My boys are both very good cooks, and know their way around a kitchen. I put the turkey in the oven, and started the mashed potatoes while things were still quiet. I made the pumpkin pies a couple days before. After I took the turkey out I was feeling a little overwhelmed. It is difficult for me to "keep up" when things get moving really fast. I felt a little panicked. I sat down, and watched as my kids took over. They whipped out the mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn casserole, and the ham with no trouble at all. They tasted, tweaked, and even sautéed extra celery and leeks for the stuffing, and made a quick run to the store for sour cream and Cool Whip. Our friend was right in there helping to slice, dice, and supervise. I could never have done it without them. Some days are better than others. It was a good day. And again, I am thankful.

I think I will hibernate for a few days to recover...

Comments are welcome.


  1. All I can say is it was an awesome Thanksgiving and I love you tons and look forward to many more with you. Sorry things didn't work out as planned, but I think they worked out for the best. The pie was awesome and I expect a bottle or two of that wine we had for dinner in my stocking. As far as random hobbies go, I'm glad you took up making wine over stamp collecting lol

  2. It was the BEST Thanksgiving I've had in many, many years! My thanks to you, the "kids" and Kroozer for allowing us into the festivities. Can't wait for next year's feast!