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Family feasts together again

First Thanksgiving meal as a group in more than 20 years

GIRARD — It’s been more than 20 years since Jenise Borrasso, of Girard and formerly of California, spent time with her parents and siblings at Thanksgiving, now being held at the home of her sister, Christina Bates of Liberty.

Borrasso is the oldest of three siblings. She recently bought a home in Girard two months ago, after leaving the area in her 20s and moving to the West Coast, living in California and New Mexico.

Borrasso said she is thankful this Thanksgiving for the new opportunity to live near her immediate family after 20 years of living across the country.

“It was always so expensive to come back for Thanksgiving. I did come back at other times of the year over the years and my sister suggested I move back. I have always been the farthest away. Then COVID hit and really changed any plans for coming back,” Borrasso said.

But she was encouraged to come home this year and to be with everyone for Thanksgiving.

Bates said she is having the Thanksgiving dinner, which she does every year for family. This year she will have 22 at her home, including her sister.

Also coming will be their brother, Severiano Ortiz of Chicago, who now will travel the farthest.

Borrasso said she said has not seen her brother for more than five years.

Also to be there will be their mother, Jackie Cromeans of Pittsburgh, and her husband, Dan, who brings the turkey. Their father, Tony, and his wife Jennifer, also of Pittsburgh, will attend as well.

Borrasso will be there with her husband Stephen, who also will mark his first time with the family at Thanksgiving.

She said her husband lived all his life in Orange County, California, and moved to Ohio so Borrasso could be with her family.

“My sister has been holding this big Thanksgiving dinner for more than 10 years and I have not been here once. I have seen the pictures. It will be nice to be here with everyone and be part of the family life again,” Borrasso said.

Bates said growing up everyone got together for all the holidays and the Super Bowl. This year, Borrasso said her brother doesn’t know she will be there.

Cromeans said she is excited that all three of her children will be with her on Thanksgiving, and that her two daughters live nearby.

“She really appreciates all of us when we can be there with her,” Borrasso said.

She said she is most thankful to be with her family for Thanksgiving after such long a time.

“There were some Thanksgivings I ate at a restaurant or just did not do anything,” Borrasso said.

Borrasso said she is making sweet potato pirogies for the dinner because the family is part Polish and she has a pirogie maker.

Bates said it has been nice for the sisters to go places together. “It is nice to have an adult sister around to do things,” she said. The two live eight minutes apart.

The two sisters said they also will get to see each other’s children, who they haven’t seen over the years.

“I feel that it is never too late to come back to be with family,” Borrasso said.

Cromeans said families grow together and at times grow apart.

“A therapist once told me you must put yourself in the other person’s shoes to truly try to understand what they experienced and how it affected them,” she said.

Cromeans said when Borrasso relocated more times than she can count for very short periods of time, it created a strain on the family.

“As a parent all I want for my children is to be happy, healthy and content with the decisions they make. Patience, love and acceptance are essential in the family. I am grateful and blessed to finally have our blended family reunited on this day of thanks,” she said.

Cromeans said she would love to have her three children, seven grandchildren, and four (soon to be five) great-grandchildren vacation together.

Borrasso said during the time she was away, relatives from the local area died, and as the years went on visits back to Ohio and Pittsburgh became fewer and fewer.

“My mother pulled me aside, just having recently lost her only two sisters to cancer (one older and one younger), and she asked me to promise her that I would never lose contact with my only sister no matter how far away I lived, and that we would maintain a close relationship,” she said.

Borrasso said she is thankful to be back in the Valley.

“Sometimes when your kids grow up and move far away, life can get pretty lonely and different. I miss my aunts that passed away terribly and want to make sure that I don’t miss another day with those most important to me. I say, ‘Way to go family for making this a possibility for me. I have missed you all and am so very thankful to be with you all again!”

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