It’s here! It’s here! Today is Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. I feel the same on every Thanksgiving, and I think I write almost the same thing every year too in my journal, but this is the first time I am sharing it publicly. I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons.
First and foremost, I love spending the day with my family. I miss my four grandparents, but their legacies are still present at each Thanksgiving through the sugar coated dates on the buffet and the marching bands and balloons in the parade. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is cheesy and corny, and I am not a fan of musicals or performances, but I have to watch the parade every year from start to finish because it is like my grandfather is sitting next to me as I watch it.
I was trying to explain the importance of Santa arriving at the end of the parade to my journalism students this week, and I don’t think many of them understood. When I was young, I was told that the Santa in the parade was the REAL Santa, and that he only came down from the North Pole for the parade and for Christmas deliveries. Because he was the REAL Santa, I couldn’t wait to see him in the parade. And when I was young, after he appeared, that was when the Christmas commercials would start. His appearance was the harbinger of the Christmas season. Now, Christmas commercials start running in the beginning of October, which takes a lot of magic out of the season. I know that when Santa appears later today, I’ll once again have a tear running down my cheek as I remember about the magic of childhood and wish to have a little of that lost magic back.
Thanksgiving also means family and football. I’ll be spending the day at my mother’s home with my family. Everyone contributes to the meal, which includes turkey, corn, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, brussel sprouts, turnips, stuffing, apple and pumpkin pie, and more. We will eat and laugh together, and enjoy each other’s company. I’ll play with my nephews, and perhaps take them for a nature walk around the neighborhood. And I’ll root for the Lions, as I do every Thanksgiving.
Last year, we had to adjust to a different Thanksgiving after losing my father in law. I missed making Poppy laugh and his kind smile at the table. It was just as difficult as when we had to adjust in 2007 after losing my brother in law, Michael, to cancer. One of my favorite memories with him was his last Christmas in 2006, when we both stood at the counter and ate our dinner together, as the table was too crowded. Like many important moments in my life, I can picture it in my mind like it happened yesterday, yet I didn’t realize the importance of it at the time. I am so thankful for that memory and for Michael’s encouragement and advice, which ultimately changed my life.
This year will again bring another adjustment for our family, as this is the first Thanksgiving without my Dad. His 74th birthday would have been tomorrow, and we usually celebrated his birthday on Thanksgiving. Last year, it WAS his birthday on Thanksgiving. I will miss watching football with him, and hearing his laugh. It will be different without him at the head of the table this year, but my brother thought of a great idea. His 18-month old son, who happens to be my Godson, will take Pa’s place at the head of the table. He will share our childhood memories and traditions of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Santa with his two sons so they can continue the customs our parents began for us.
This year, I am going to bask in every moment and take it all in. I hope to absorb every sight, sound, smell, and taste, and cherish every memory, as my brother so wisely advised. I hope that next year, when I am writing my Thanksgiving retrospective, that everyone is still with us, and that we will gather together again for a celebration of gratitude.
I am thankful for the people in my life: family (especially my niece and 3 nephews), friends, colleagues, and students. I am thankful that my health isn’t worse than it is, and that I can get through each day with Lupus and Fibromyalgia (even though both are flaring and I’ve had to make many adjustments to my schedule to deal with these “service disruptions,” as I like to call them…but it could be so much worse). I am so very thankful for my husband, who is my best friend. And I am thankful for every laugh, smile, tear, and moment along the way.
May you have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving.