GIRARD — It’s been more than 20 years since Jenise Borrasso, of Girard and formerly of California, spent time with her parents and siblings on Thanksgiving, who is now being held at the home of her sister Christina Bates of Liberty.
Borrasso is the eldest of three siblings. She bought a home in Girard two months ago after leaving the area in her 20s and moving to the West Coast, where she lives in California and New Mexico.
Borrasso said she is grateful this Thanksgiving for the new opportunity to live close to her immediate family after 20 years across the country.
“It was always so expensive to come back for Thanksgiving. I’ve come back at other times of the year over the years and my sister suggested I move back. I was always the furthest away. Then COVID hit and really changed all plans for a return,” Borrasso said.
But she was encouraged to come home and be with everyone on Thanksgiving this year.
Bates said she has the Thanksgiving dinner that she makes for the family every year. This year she will have 22 at her house, including her sister.
Her brother, Severiano Ortiz from Chicago, will also come, who will now travel furthest.
Borrasso said she hasn’t seen her brother for more than five years.
Her mother, Jackie Cromeans from Pittsburgh, and her husband Dan, who will bring the turkey, will also be there. Her father Tony and his wife Jennifer, also from Pittsburgh, will also be attending.
Borrasso will be there with her husband Stephen, who will also be with the family for the first time on Thanksgiving.
She said her husband had lived in Orange County, California his entire life and moved to Ohio so Borrasso could be with her family.
“My sister has been hosting this big Thanksgiving dinner for over 10 years and I haven’t been here once. I’ve seen the pictures. It will be nice to be here with everyone and to be part of family life again,” Borrasso said.
Bates said growing up, everyone got together for the holidays and the Super Bowl. This year, Borrasso said her brother didn’t know she’d be there.
Cromeans said she’s excited that all three of her children will be with her for Thanksgiving and that her two daughters live nearby.
“She appreciates all of us when we can be with her,” Borrasso said.
She said she was very grateful to be with her family for Thanksgiving after such a long time.
“There’s been some Thanksgivings that I’ve eaten at a restaurant or just done nothing,” Borrasso said.
Borrasso said she makes sweet potato pierogi for dinner because the family is part Polish and she has a pierogi maker.
Bates said it was nice for the sisters to go places together. “It’s nice to have a grown sister to get things done,” she said. The two live eight minutes apart.
The two sisters said they will also see each other’s children, whom they have not seen over the years.
“I feel like it’s never too late to come back to be with family,” Borrasso said.
Cromeans said families grow together and sometimes grow apart.
“A therapist once told me that you have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to really understand what they were experiencing and how it affected them,” she said.
Cromeans said when Borrasso moved more times than she can count for very short periods of time, it was a strain on the family.
“As a parent, I want my children to be happy, healthy, and content with the choices they make. Patience, love and acceptance are essential in the family. I am grateful and blessed that our blended family is finally reunited on this day of thanksgiving,” she said.
Cromeans said she would love for her three children, seven grandchildren and four (soon to be five) great-grandchildren to holiday together.
Borrasso said relatives in the area died while she was away, and visits to Ohio and Pittsburgh had dwindled over the years.
“My mother took me aside, having just lost her two sisters (one older and one younger) to cancer, and she asked me to promise her that I would never lose touch with my only sister, no matter how far away I live. and that we would maintain a close relationship,” she said.
Borrasso said she is grateful 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 deceased aunts terribly and want to make sure I don’t miss another day with the ones that are most important to me. I say, ‘Great family who made this an opportunity for me. I’ve missed you all and I’m so thankful to be with you all again!”