I’m one of the lucky ones. One of those amazingly fortunate people who always looked forward to Thanksgiving rather than wondering how on earth I share genetic material with the people I find myself surrounded by. And mind you that isn’t a statement of better or worse; it’s just a statement of different. Sometimes drastically different. I was fortunate because I had the most amazing grandmother a girl could ask for. Nothing about her life was showy or boisterous or big, but she is still one of the most amazing people I have ever met. And while she always created the most amazing meal on Thanksgiving what she really created were the most amazing moments and memories.
For years we spent Thanksgiving up at my Grandmother’s house and it was the most wonderful, joyous, relaxing, affirming day you can imagine. My grandmother loved Thanksgiving and it showed in everything from the place cards, to the days of preparation, to the mess of dirty dishes afterwards. She smiled through every part of it and never seemed flustered or stressed or even slightly overwhelmed. Of course we would all bring our various contributions to the feast, but the lion’s share was left in her loving hands and so we didn’t just end up eating turkey we ended up savoring the entire experience. And even when we all felt stuffed full of conversation and laughter, we were always up for another heaping plate of wonderful. Often we would all find a corner to crash in for the night and look forward to trekking out to cut Christmas trees the next day. The weather was always perfectly awful and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. My Grandmother brought such joy to this holiday and I miss her wisdom, energy and grace terribly. When we lost her it left a terrible void in our family and we have all tried to quietly go about creating our own Thanksgiving traditions knowing full well and good that it will never be the same. To be perfectly honest, there have been some rifts in our family and I think often on the fact that if she was still with us she’d put everything to rights. She was never afraid to dive into difficulty and so often I find myself wondering what she would do. How she would handle these strains and troubles and disconnectedness. She was like a warm fire that just drew everybody to her and without her energy and strength, we’ve somehow all been adrift for years now. There has been no focus, no center, and no “home” where everybody’s hearts are at peace and love and laughter are always on the menu. I don’t know how to solve it, but I know in my heart she would have. But in the spirit of Thanks, I am so grateful for the example she set. She gave me a picture rich with colors, tastes, smells and soul satisfying experiences. So now I am throwing myself into rebuilding for my own family an equally warm and rich tradition.
So while I will continue to work my way toward a meal, a table setting and an experience that matches the glorious pictures in my mind, I am Thankful for the fact that today I have everything I need. My husband, my kids…my family. The real stuff, the good stuff, the stuff that my Grandmother showed me how to savor, appreciate and enjoy. She continues to be my example and my inspiration. So right here and right now, I am Thankful for the enduring gifts that she Gave to me and I wish you all endless helpings of Joy on this most special and meaningful Holiday.