The image of my mom with her hair jumbled behind two pairs of glasses running around the house makes me laugh every time. As far back as I can remember, she’s made sure every single holiday and birthday wasn’t just special, but memorable.

My mom isn’t the biggest fan of cooking, but she spends every Thanksgiving Day perfecting a 22-pound turkey, making an array of side dishes, and setting festive tables that put a smile on everyone’s faces. We’ve always hosted the holiday at our home, and my mom has taken the brunt of the work every single year.

It’s become a running joke of sorts — this loving woman sweating and rushing around the house all day. She makes the trips to the grocery store, buys all the food, creates the cooking schedule, and misses out on relaxing with the family to make sure we have a proper holiday meal.

When you’re a kid, it’s kind of easy to be ungrateful and expect your parents or guardians to make everything work out. When you’re an adult, however, you begin to see how superhuman they are — that their selflessness doesn’t seem to ever run out.

I wasn’t as receptive when I began coming home from college; I was tired, complaining about exams, and babbling on about everything going on in life. But as I grew older, I, like most functioning adults, learned that growing up also means realizing the world doesn’t revolve around you. Everyone is tired. Everyone is busy. It’s how you live in spite of that that matters.

Now, I see my mom not as the Energizer Bunny, but as a tired, working woman who keeps going anyway. I don’t think my brothers and I will ever stop laughing when she is frantically stirring gravy while looking for a pair of glasses despite the three pairs atop her head, but I know she wouldn’t want us to. She wants that for us — family, relaxation, joy, cheer, and lots of laughter. So much so, in fact, that she’s always been willing to leave herself out.

Quite frankly, a “Thanks, Mom” doesn’t ever cut it. Her constant sacrifice for our happiness, whether she’s trying not to burn the mashed potatoes or picking us up from the airport, is beyond noticed — it’s ingrained in my heart.

So today, the day before I can attempt, yet again, to try and help her, I write this letter to her and every person in charge of Thanksgiving. Thank you to the moms, the dads, the grandparents, the friends, the aunts, the uncles, and the siblings — without you, we’d have nothing to be thankful for in the first place.

Thank you to the candle-lighters, the place-setters, the gravy-stirrers, the turkey-carvers, the stuffing masters, the pie captains, the wine-pourers, and, yes, even the person who brings up politics at the table. But, most importantly, thank you, Mom, for your tireless spirit. I can say with certainty that if I become half the mother and woman you are, I will be the second-greatest human to ever live — I’ll be just behind you.

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