Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving remembrances

Thanksgiving: a time for families to gather around the dining room table, a time to share the story of the pilgrims and their bountiful harvest, a time for caring, a time for loving.

Thanksgiving 1993 was the last time I saw my daughter in a family-type setting, so it is hard for me to think of it as a joyous occasion when it comes around every year. I still miss her laughter, her stories, her hardy appetite, as I would watch her gooble down the turkey she loved so much. That last time she was just married a little over a month, so she drove from California to Arizona that weekend with her husband, planning to spend Thanksgiving with the family and her friends still living in the area. I remember how uncomfortable she was in the trundle bed and complained it was hard to be close when the two beds were just pushed together. After all, she said, they were officially a married couple and wanted to sleep close together. I laughed and told her she could deal with it for a few days, that there would be so much time, so many years together. No, not to be. Only a few months as it turned out.

I don’t think it matters that she was my only child. I’m sure it is just as hard for parents who still have other children to look at that empty seat at the dinner table and remember with love other, more happy Thanksgivings. But we all do the best we can.

One year I helped out at St. Vincent de Paul dining room for the homeless. I stood behind the counter and dished out food. As they came through the line, I played a game with myself. Let’s see if I could guess the situation and why these people were homeless, why they had no one with whom to share this holiday. What had happened in their lives to place them there on that day? As hard as I tried I couldn’t imagine. And then I heard some stories…all heartbreaking to say the least. You always think your situation is the worst, until you hear another’s story.

It is then I realize how lucky I am to have people who care, people who invite me every year to their dinner table, those who know it’s hard for me but want me to know they understand. Those people are my true friends. I try as hard as I can to enjoy myself. Sometimes it works well, other times, not so well. But I believe that is to be expected, and when it’s over, I breath a sign of relief that I don’t have to think about this particular holiday for another 365 days. I move on as I try to do every day of my life and make the most of it, always thinking of these good memories with my daughter, my friends and my loved ones.

And for those who don’t know the real story of that first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims celebrated, the feast was not with Turkey. They ate EEL and celebrated for three days!

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