Archive for November, 2009

Giving Thanks, especially this year….

I’d like to post something I wrote last year at Thanksgiving, before I had a blog. I’m pulling it out of the file because it’s still fresh. We’re doing it all again this year, only adding my in-laws. Can’t wait. Pray for the turkey!

Thanksgiving 2008

This year’s Thanksgiving took on a deeper meaning for me than ever before. I hosted my first Thanksgiving feast….. on Saturday.

My Sister-in-Law, Linda, has “owned” Thanksgiving in our family for probably twenty years. My Mom and Dad, my sister and her husband and my niece and nephew all come to my brother’s home in Newcastle for Thanksgiving weekend, joined by their two sons Kyle & Kevin. There are strong traditions, and everyone’s special recipes, killer card games, and a tradition of each one in turn expressing one thing we are thankful for. Inevitably Family is the number one object of our gratitude. We all get along, have fun together, love each other, and generally get through the weekend without all the drama and hurt feelings and tolerating of each other which we hear from some of our friends’ reports of their Thanksgiving “feasts”.

This year, we received a special request from Steve’s daughter Erin, asking if we would host Thanksgiving at our house for Steve’s three kids and their families. We’ve never done this because, as I said, my sister-in-law “owns” Thanksgiving. Also, there are all the other in-laws, ex-laws, etc. etc. to compete with.

But the golden request was made, and I was thrilled. So, we offered to host a Saturday Thanksgiving, allowing everyone to enjoy Thursday with their “other” families. Now, bear in mind, I am 48 years old and have never before cooked a turkey. Oh the advice that came from all quarters…. It was pretty humorous…. Add to that an out-of-town trip just before the big feast. (Fresh or frozen bird, 12 lb or 25 lb, when to pick it up, take it out, put it in, roast it in a bag, out of a bag, barbecue it, thermometer in the breast or in the thigh, stuffing inside or outside, Mom’s southern cornbread stuffing vs. Linda’s Yankee stuffing….). What to make ahead, what to ask others to bring, when to clean the house, set the table, etc. I went on line for help (a week before Thanksgiving of course) and found a simple four-week planning guide for Thanksgiving! Ha!

In the end, everyone arrived, a bit of turkey drama showed up, but Brian and Bill stepped in with their expertise and saved the day. Everyone pitched in and twelve people sat around the Thanksgiving feast. I introduced the tradition of going around the table and declaring what you are Thankful for. When it came to me, I was almost speechless. Looking around this table, in my own home, with my husband, I realized something very significant for me. My deepest sorrow is missing the opportunity to have or raise children of my own. It’s been the topic of my deepest anger at God, crying till my face is swollen and my voice is gone, lying on the floor in a despair so deep there seems to be no way out. That deep hole is still there. I carry it every day, and it expands as I grow older. But here, on this day of Thanksgiving, I join hands around this table with these dear people, none of whom are related to me by blood. They have adopted me, and I them. These are my family. I love them like my own children and grandchildren. What more could I say? I am thankful for my family. In eight short years of being married to Steve I have a full family – the whole thing. My heart is full, my cup overflows. When it was my five-year-old granddaughter Alexis’ turn to speak, she said “I’m thankful for Nani”. In that moment, my life was complete.

In these days of stress, worry, war, darkness, and gloom, I find it is easy to start feeling nervous and anxious. The circumstances seem so out of control. Will I have a job next month? Will we be able to make the mortgage payments? Will my parents be ok? What about my friends who are hurting? What will the future look like? I can loose my bearings. If I was a nail biter, I’d have no fingers left. But when I stop, and let my mind and heart sit at that Thanksgiving table, and gaze at the beautiful faces of my beloved family, the anxious thoughts dissipate, the worry dissolves, and overwhelming love, joy, and peace fill my whole being. I lift my heart to God in gratitude too deep for words and say Thank You. Though Heaven and Earth shall pass away, Your love, your tender mercies, will last forever. This is my Rock.