Today is our first Thanksgiving without mom.

One Thanksgiving twenty years ago — maybe twenty-five? — she made a batch of amazing candied yams. I think she screwed up the recipe somehow, added too much brown sugar or left them in the oven too long, something like that. I thought they were the best thing she’d ever cooked, and I gorged myself on them.

I have never tasted candied yams anything like that batch. I can taste them right now, if I close my eyes and think about them. They were cut into squares, and the edges were all burned (or maybe caramelized).

Well, she was so happy and proud of how much I liked them that she made them every year. For weeks leading up to Thanksgiving she’d tell me she was going to make them and I would feign excitement. When I was in college she’d make sure I got a batch of them every year. When I moved to Los Angeles, three thousand miles away from her, every year she’d tell me she was making them in an effort to convince me to come home for the holidays.

I never had the heart to tell her I couldn’t stand candied yams. It was just that one time that I liked them.

But it made her so happy to make them for me.