Last night at my mom\u2019s house I was looking through a Southwestern-type catalog and saw a jacket that reminded me of my grandmother. I looked up at Mom and almost asked how Grandmother is doing.\r\nShe died two years ago. It\u2019s funny how that happens.\r\nGrandmother\u2019s birthday is November 8, and in our family, her birthday set off the holidays. First came her birthday, and then, Boom! We were launched into Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve. And Grandmother loved the holidays.\r\nYou think your Christmas sweater is sparkly? Not as sparkly as Grandmother\u2019s. Think your eggnog is spiked? Here, try one of hers. Grandmother was, without a doubt, the loudest, most elegantly dressed, foul-mouthed broad in the room, no matter where she was. She smoked cigarettes. She always wore a hat. She drank Skyy Vodka and club soda, Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages red wine, Sunny Delight and coffee. I never saw her drink water.\r\nShe had a business card that read: Jo McBride, Professional Party Attendee, 24-Hour Service, Free within 200 Mile Radius, With or Without Clothes.\r\nWhen I was a kid, during the summertime, I would fly out to see her in Loveland, Colorado. During one visit, when I was eight, I asked her, \u201cWhy do you always wear black? You should wear different colors.\u201d\r\n\u201cI\u2019ll have you know I am one of the best dressed ladies in Loveland,\u201d she declared. \u201cAnd, I\u2019m not going to let some little hick from West Virginia tell me what to wear.\u201d\r\nWe went out that evening to her favorite restaurant, The Summit, to meet up with some friends on the patio.\r\n\u201cYou look lovely, Jo,\u201d said our dining companion.\r\n\u201cGrandmother always looks lovely,\u201d I said to the gentleman. \u201cShe\u2019s the best dressed lady in Loveland. She told me so.\u201d\r\nThat\u2019s the only time I ever saw her speechless.\r\n\u2022 \u2022 \u2022\r\nEven without Grandmother\u2019s birthday celebration, the holidays still come, blowing in with the wind every November. We don\u2019t have to travel far for Thanksgiving - my in-laws live next door to us and my mom lives in White Sulphur, so it\u2019s pretty easy. Tom cooks the \u201cyard bird,\u201d as he calls it, and his giblet stuffing, and I make some kind of pie or roasted vegetable something-or-another. My mom, mother-in-law and sister-in-law handle the rest of the sides and dessert - mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato pie, rolls and butter, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and chocolate cake. Oh man, I just can\u2019t wait!\r\nSometimes, we just dig in. Our family is not one for prayers, so a lot of the time we just let Papa Steve bless our dinner with the requisite \u201cOver the teeth, through the gums, watch out stomach, here it comes!\u201d\r\nHowever, our children seem to be a lot more sentimental and well-brought-up than we grown-ups are, and these days they usually insist we hold hands and go around the table stating what we are thankful for. It\u2019s always a bit of a challenge to come up with some profound thing to say because my mouth is full, so I usually say I am grateful for all the people around the table, and for our health, and I mean it - we are blessed in so many ways.\r\nFor their part, the children usually get the Thanksgiving-gratitude-thing really going, as they look at the world the way children do, with wonder and innocence and humor. Our little cousin always elicits a laugh with his gratitude for Angry Birds and Mario Kart, and our girls charm us with their appreciation of their friends and family. The little one usually says she\u2019s thankful that Christmas is coming, and we all laugh in appreciation and agreement.\r\nPapa Steve often raises a glass to toast our being together. We eat till we\u2019re past full, and then he and Tom watch the football game as we ladies divvy up the leftovers in the warmth of the kitchen, lights aglow against the darkness outside.\r\nSo, here\u2019s to our bounty this season: to wood on the pile and tread on our tires. To our health and our happiness and to the blessings around our tables. To warmth in our hearts and stillness in our minds. Here\u2019s to Grandmother, and Mom, and Terry and Steve, to Tom and Jen and the kids.\r\nAnd, here\u2019s to you. May your holiday be filled with warmth and love, peace and gratitude.