Do you, like me, find yourself barking the words of this post title too often? This month I’ve told myself I had good reason. During the past three weeks, I’ve traveled to Pittsburgh to visit family, been to Denver on Romance Writers of America board business (where I also saw my college roomie), and am now faced with the holiday season. In between all of that, I’ve been writing the first book of a new series (tentatively titled, The Memory of You). But the holiday season reminds me of what I’ve always known–family should always come first. It’s time I take myself in hand and restructure my priorities.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Why? A. It’s food, people. I love gravy. B. It’s about giving thanks and appreciating family (without the commercialization that accompanies next month’s holidays). I adore the traditions and nostalgia, the candles and music, and the laughter.

For fifty-two years, my mother cooked Thanksgiving dinner for our extended family. When I was very young, that group included more than twenty people (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and the occasional boyfriend or college roommate). Last year, we were down to about fifteen. This year, for the first time (and various reasons), the entire family is not gathering in Pittsburgh for the holiday. My mother, however, is coming here.

I’ve only ever missed one Thanksgiving with my whole family, when it fell too close to my due date for me to travel safely, so letting go of a lifetime of tradition is a bittersweet moment. I suspect my cousins all feel the same. But when faced with this kind of situation, I look for the silver lining. In this case, there are two pretty good ones. Not only do I not have to become a road warrior this week, but also my mom will be a guest at Thanksgiving for the first time in her adult life.

She’s a perfectionist who loves pretty things, so I want to make it special. We might be a very small crew at the table this year, but we have big love in our house. For the next few days, I’ll do my best to unplug and never once say, “Not now, I’m too busy.”

With that in mind, I’d better finish some of this prep work before everyone else wakes up. I hope each of you enjoys the holiday with whomever you love. Happy Thanksgiving!

XO-Jamie