It’s Thanksgiving. My mother passed away four years ago, but she appears to be living on in my head. I find myself counting to confirm I’ve hit at least dozen vegetables and every colour in the rainbow.

Stuffing has onion (1, white), celery (2, light green), pomegranate (3, violet, “That’s a bit of a stretch, dear…”), grape (4, indigo), and a splash of orange juice (5, orange). Garlic Yukon gold mashed potatoes (6, yellow). Sweet potatoes (7, orange already covered). Whole berry cranberry sauce (8, red). Mixed steamed vegetables (green beans (“That’s better, celery isn’t really terribly green.”), carrots, corn, edamame, peas (“Two medium greens, nice. Four greens is healthier.”)… all colours covered already, but adds 5 to the count for a total of 13). Turkey, gravy, and wine don’t count (“Those grapes are long past grape-ness for counting.”). Neither does the shrimp ring or seafood sauce (“Horseradish is only a vegetable if you can bite into it.”). At least 13 different herbs and spices have been flung about with abandon. There are a few dishes in the kitchen that I haven’t dirtied and washed this morning, but I am sure I will get to them soon.

“But Kirsten”, I can hear her saying, “You know the fruits don’t really count, unless you’re doing a double rainbow. You could swap in two colours of beets and some eggplant. Or swiss chard. Did you assemble the pickle plate?”

I’m sitting down for a bit. The tablecloth is in the dryer. I’m filling the diffuser with a custom blend called apple cider (6 drops of bergamot essential oil, 2 of thieves, and 2 of ginger).

“I don’t really like the scent of bergamot,” I imagine her saying, “Not in your Earl Grey tea, at least.”

I sigh in exasperation and sink into my armchair. “You’ll like this, Mom, just trust me. And put those vegetables back in the fridge, we do NOT need a salad.”

Dad and Bonnie will be here later this afternoon. I still have to swing by the LCBO.

Does anyone else have ghosts in their head at holidays?