Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving day tends to bring about thoughts of things we as individuals are grateful for during the preceding year or years. Though I'm not a fan of the holidays (including my birthday) because they don't hold the fondest memories for me personally, I do my best not to drag others down with me. If you have the patience to bear with me, I promise this won't be as depressing as it starts... at least I hope.

When I was a kid, I always said "When I grow up, I'm not going to make huge meals and have tons of people over for the holidays." For the most part, this has held true. Images like the Norman Rockwell photo below are not the memories I hold of Thanksgiving. While I won't go into details (as this will do no good for anyone, including myself), let's just say that if I could've gone to sleep on the last Wednesday of November and woke up on the last Friday of November every year, and been perfectly content to lose those 24 hours.
From Saturday evening Post, 1943
My first Thanksgiving out of reasonable range of my family I spent in my little studio apartment in a not-so-great neighborhood, eating a bean burrito. I was utterly thrilled to watch football on my 13 inch television, eat my burrito, and be alone. I never thought such a holiday was possible. I was content. I was at peace. I was happy. Co-workers invited me over; I declined. Friends asked me to come and visit; I said no. Others saw it as sad that I was alone, but I was truly excited to not have a huge meal and all the drama that I knew went along with this and all other holidays.

Before the next Thanksgiving arrived, my step-dad (who I'd only known a few years, but had grown very fond and attached to) passed away unexpectedly. I will never forget the day I had gone back to work after visiting him in the hospital. He was fine, the doctor was sending him home the following day, so I had traveled back home. That first day back to work I was in a meeting when I was urgently paged overhead. Somehow, I just knew what the call was and I started crying. I picked up the phone and said in a quivering voice, "Hello." My mother explained briefly that he had passed. I simply broke down. It just wasn't fair, he was too young, and one of the worst parts of the deal, it was the day before his 55th birthday.
Step-dad, Jim, orders his meal after my little brothers high school graduation
One of the saddest things to me is that Jim never had the opportunity to meet Sam, and vice versa. I think he would've loved Sam as much as I do. They would've enjoyed cheering for the LA Lakers together, they would've debated football teams, they would've talked about their military days, and most importantly, I think they would've appreciated each other for exactly who they are as individuals. Which brings me to the point of this little outlay of some of my personal history.

While I find myself getting down from this point of the year until after the new year, I am also reminded of all the things I am entirely grateful for in life.

I am thankful that...

I had (and still have) a crazy family. I have learned to appreciate their individual oddities over the years and also know when it's time to walk away for a time and give everyone a break from each other.

I had a time (albeit relatively short) with an awesome step father. He was a great guy who I will always hold near and dear to my heart. I will take the few years we shared any day over not ever having known him at all. And hey, I have another pretty cool step-dad now too.

I have the best husband in the world for me. Even as I sit here typing this, he watches me intently, trying to figure out why I'm tearing up as I type. He knows I don't do well with these holidays, and does his best to keep things mellow, even when I'm verging on insanity. Plus, he lets me do non-traditional Thanksgivings on a regular basis.

I have the world's best dogs who are full of life and energy and keep me on the move, even when I'd rather curl up and do nothing at all.

I was reintroduced to bicycles over the past few years, and the joy they bring; and I am grateful that I've been able to test out and seek out the perfect rides for my needs. Tony Stark and Annabel Lee... I love you both!

We have a place to sleep at night, a roof over our heads, food to eat, enough income to sustain life, and yeah, I'm even thankful for the opportunity to go back to school (even when it drives me crazy).

I could literally go on for hours with a list of things I'm thankful for today and every day, and I suppose that is the point of all the hoopla today. While I may not be preparing a fancy meal, or roasting any animal carcases, I will enjoy the holiday with the one I love in a low key day of celebration, and remind myself that I have much to be thankful for today and every day of life.
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope for all that the day is spent with those you love and care about.

2 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear about the loss of your stepfather - sounds like he was definitely a special guy and it's good that you have those memories, but I can also see why you'd feel sad around the holidays. My husband and I can identify with the holiday blues, as several years ago, within the span of just about 8 months, his mother and both his remaining grandparents passed away fairly suddenly and then we lost both our greyhounds to various issues (they were almost 14, so very old for greyhounds but still difficult on top of everything else). The 8 month period was from approx. July to Feb, so we didn't really enjoy the holidays that year. I've worked in healthcare for almost my entire career, so it also doesn't help that I associate most holidays simply with extra work :) But as you stated, there is much to be thankful for, so I try and focus on the positives more than the negatives. Hope you have a nice, restful holiday!

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  2. It's such a shame when there is so much loss around the holidays. We want this time of year to be happy, but they aren't always what we expect (as we know). I think it helps though to remind myself that there is much good in life. I hope this is a great holiday for you and your husband.

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