My Thanksgiving was loaded with:
- gratitude (I have so much to be thankful for),
- laughter (the side-splitting, jaw-aching kind),
- food (a groaning board of delectable dishes or as we would say when I was young – “food for days!”), family and friends
Although the holiday didn’t happen as originally planned (because of the absent daughter and her family).
I planned to have three Thanksgivings but ended up having two. My son, (step) daughter, husband and I visited my friend M’s house (our friendship goes back 33 years) It was the first time my son and (step) daughter met. He was in rare form, sharing his comedic, acting, voice and improvisational gifts at the table with long-known friends and new people.
The second Thanksgiving was on Friday. First hubby and I shared a day of gentle shopping on Boylston Street in the Back Bay section of Boston. They were amazed by the number of new buildings and the refurbished Prudential Center and Copley Place and have gotten old enough to lament places now gone like the Copley Place Theatre. We returned home and ate the Thanksgiving dinner I had cooked over the previous two days. One of my son’s childhood friends to come by but that didn’t happen. Instead, my friend P and her 3 daughters and her goddaughter came and noshed.
Her twin daughters are in college and were regaled with bits of recently acquired advice and wisdom by son (30) and (step) daughter (29) about the importance of college, finishing what you start, and the enjoyment that comes after, when you’re working, traveling, partying and growing as the captain of your own fate. Older younguns encouraged younger younguns to travel abroad, to be open to friends/acquaintances from all backgrounds, and to be careful. This was all delivered in a non-stop stream of humorous stories, anecdotes and exagerations with great passion, serious wisdom, and bales of laughter. Even the shy 12 year old, participated in the conversation and – shudder – hugged everyone as we said goodbye.
While we didn’t end up with the folks we thought would be there, everyone who ended up at our table was meant to be there!
The third Thanksgiving would have happened today with my daughter, granddaughter, son-in-love and two of his clan. They were going to come here from NYC where they were supposed to have had their first Thanksgiving. Car trouble cancelled their trip. (It is a wonderful blessing that the car trouble happened at the beginning of their journey and they were able to make it back home safely and enjoy Thanksgiving with another family member.) so, I’ve tucked away the little surprises and plans I had for them until Christmas when we plan to be together. (Yes, I’m making plans, again.)
I have learned to expect the unexpected and to realize that whoever ends up at the table is who was supposed to be there. Instead of regretting those absent, I have learned to be fully-present whoever is there, capturing the precious moments in my heart and mind.
I know that my Mom and siblings, niece, nephew and cousins, aunts and uncles are breaking bread together in St. Louis and enjoying each other as well they should. Some holidays or other occasions we are all able to be together or at least a majority of are able to be together. On other holidays we are all split into our various family configurations. Either way brings its joys.
I miss everyone who isn’t around, but I don’t ache for them as I used to because I carry them with me. I see them in the faces of those who are present. I give thanks for birth families, chosen families, old friends, new friends, teens transitioning to adults, a child coming into teenage hood, a baby grown to be a toddler who walks and talks, new parents and veteran grandparents.
I am blessed to have at least half-a-dozen tables that I could share on any given holiday and a long list of friends and family whom I could invite to my table. Who knows what tables we’ll share next year or who will be sitting with whom? It always works out in the end whether or not according to plan.