Thanksgiving was always my favorite gathering holiday, for many reasons. Looking back, it was one of the few things I trusted growing up. We always had it at my house. My mom cooked everything, and then she'd do it again Friday morning because we never had enough left-overs for her liking. Her parents, brother, aunts and uncles would come over. It was one of the only times during the year I was able to listen to them communicate with each other. There would be football, food, lots of highly entertaining and wildy innapropriate conversations for a young mind to hear, laughing, political debates, happy and mad yelling at both the football game and each other. When we sat down to eat, if someone was not present at the table, they would be called and the phone passed around the table to speak with everyone. It happened every year. I knew what to expect and knew my house would be lively. I liked it. It was such a nice change to the quiet, mostly non verbal people I lived with.
We reflect on all the things, people, places, circumstances, experiences we've had throughout the year. We look back with fondness at happy moments and find silver linings in sad. We count our blessings. No matter our religion, I'm sure He is looking down upon us with extra happiness. It's a day that isn't turned into materialism, or commercialized. We give thanks. There's no stress about gift giving, or trying to "remember the reason for the season." It's just a day of thanks, and I love that.
Since my last thanksgiving being present at that childhood table, all but my immediate family has passed on. My parents and brother have continued to gather together, and the tradition of the phone passing continued as well. For many years this was the only day out of the year that I spoke to my brother, and often my father if he didn't answer on Father's Day. I have come to realize that I still trust thanksgiving day to be that one day a year that my family connects as a whole, even if by phone.
This year will be different. This year, for the first time in 35 years, I won't hear my mother's, father's, or brother's voice. They have decided I am unworthy to be a part of their lives. I haven't heard from my mother in almost 5 months, and I miss her. I have been trying to find a silver lining, but is there one? How can you make losing your family seem better? In so many ways, it hurts so much more that they aren't actually dead. They choose this every day. Every day they miss our family's accomplishments, our triumphs, our struggles. They've robbed me of helping them with theirs. They've left hurt, confused grandchildren in their wake, with parents that are unable to explain that kind of behavior. So, this year, can I be thankful and not at the same time?
I am so very thankful for so many things. But, there will be an emptiness about today that I know I am personally incapable of filling. I'm not sure I even want to try, because the failure will compound the initial sting. I will absolutely count my blessings. I will be grateful for so many great friends. I know I am richly blessed. I know Heavenly Father has to look at us today with a smile, all across the country people are thanking Him and some don't even know it. I don't want to let Him down. I will thank Him too. I hope my family is thanking Him as well, instead of the "table talk" being thier disgust for me. I want them to feel what it feels like to count blessings, even if they don't count me. There's no rule on what we have to be thankful for, just that we are thankful. So, I will be thankful.
To those that have suffered immeasurable losses this year...maybe we can acknowledge the loss, let ourselves be sad in our pies with our bellies full of turkey, and move into Friday knowing we survived another day of the year without those that we thought would never leave us. Maybe that's what we can be thankful for. Surviving. We are warriors of loss. We can get through another Thursday, another Friday, a Christmas, an Easter, a Saturday, all days. They keep going, so we have to too. I am thankful for each of you that has read this and wanted to give me a hug, because frankly I need them! I am thankful for wanting to give you one back, as I know if not this year, some year you will be where I am because everyone has losses. I'm thankful you will let me give you that hug. I am thankful for all those that help me survive every day, and let me help them survive. I am thankful for His plan that created us to be here for one another, and be instruments in His hands, especially when we aren't bonded by DNA. Thank you to all that have helped me survive all the seemingly impossible days. Thank you for giving me infinite reasons to give thanks on this thanksgiving day. All those acts of kindness build armor, so I can be the best warrior of loss I can be!