Missing Thanksgiving Magic – Cookie Bars — and Significant Family Presence

cookie barThis Thanksgiving our youngest daughter, our son-in-law, and their three of our precious grandchildren did not make it to Florida. Our grandson, their oldest, had an ice hockey tournament. It is hard for grandparents to understand how a children’s sports team is oblivious to the fact that American families are scattered hither and yon across the United States and gathering together for such an important holiday may mean flying across country.

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday and ever more meaningful to an immigrant family such as ours. It is a unifying holiday and always makes me feel patriotic. I missed them terribly this year but understood to a twelve year old being on a championship sports team means the world to him. Hopefully, as he matures, this family holiday will take priority.

This Grandma has written about rituals and traditions in previous posts.  Children remember most the rituals and traditions from their childhoods. I even admitted that when I was younger, I also did not have an appreciation of the importance of life passage events and family traditions and rituals.   See, post, ”The Grandma Glue: Keeping Families Together for Holiday Rituals and Traditions.”  The post, “Memorializing Family Rituals and Traditions in the New Year 2019″ has links to other previous posts on rituals and traditions.

It was not until dessert that I realized that I was far from the only one feeling the loss of their presence. We did not have our youngest baby grandson who brings so much joy to our family, but we did have a baby, my grand niece, who was adorable and lit up the room making our holiday full as we watched her down an enormous amount of food. We had our own family tradition of celebrating a first cousin’s birthday with a Carvel ice cream cake, now for the 34th year. Our annual photos of him blowing out candles shows how our family has grown. The baby he held as he blew out candles sixteen years ago, our oldest grandson, is now so tall he towers over our cousin.

After we enjoyed our vast selection of desserts, our granddaughter commented that she missed the magic cookie bars our youngest daughter made at Thanksgiving. We had apple pie, pumpkin pie, key lime pie (it is Florida!), sugar free Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, cannolis and tiramisu and other Italian delicacies from those of us family members with Italian heritage, and fruit for those ridiculously forgetting how many calories we consumed. What we did not have were Magic Cookie Bars and a significant part of our family.

Despite twenty three family members and close family friends present, our granddaughter missed the presence of an important part of our family. The absence of the Magic Cookie Bars was part of her verbalization of missing sharing this holiday with her favorite cousin, just 361 days younger, always with her for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Florida.

I also deeply felt their absence. We were incomplete. Thanksgiving is a holiday when we are all together. We never know when we will permanently lose family members. Great grandmother, GG Lee, is 96 years old. We never know when death will leave more holes in our family fabric.

I told her I had her aunt’s recipe. She asked me to text it to her. Amazing how Magic Cookie Bars can make us feel whole, and how outsized their missing from our Thanksgiving leaves a hole in the massive dessert table as our youngest daughters’ family missing left a hole in our celebration.

Then, I remembered a piece of my own advice.  Children do not care when you celebrate holidays, just so long as we celebrate to recreate rituals and traditions.  We always celebrated Chanukah at Thanksgiving when we knew we would not get to see our grandchildren at Chanukah.   We are going to visit these three grandchildren in a few weeks at their home and celebrate Chanukah early so we can just add a Thanksgiving dinner to our visit.  I will ask my daughter and son-in-law to pick up items to replicate a Thanksgiving dinner with them all.  At least they will remember we were with them celebrating the holiday and Chanukah together as we have in the past.  Gifts will be the icing on the dessert!  I must remember that we will have Magic Cookie Bars for dessert.  Because we are then going to see our granddaughter and her brother from there, we must make a lot so I can bring some to them.  Always the Pollyanna, I can make lemonade out of these lemons this year.  See post, “Long Distance Grandparents Combining Holidays for Double Joy: Thanksgiving and Christmas or Chanukah.”

We hope your family was able to celebrate Thanksgiving together. May we all be together in good health next year to celebrate the most American of holidays.


Ingredients:1 stick of butter

1 packet of graham crackers – crushed into crumbs

1 cup of chocolate chips

2/3 cup of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup of coconut

Melt the butter in an 8×8 glass oven proof dish (pyrex)

Add the graham cracker crumbs – pack down with a spoon

Evenly pour on the condensed milk

Add the chocolate chips

Sprinkle on the coconut

Bake in the oven at 350 for around 25 minutes.


Happy Holidays!





Renee Goldenberg

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