Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday as a child. It was always shared with my father’s brother’s family and sometimes assorted other uncles and aunts (whose relationship to me was somewhat murky), friends of the family, and cousins, lots of cousins. As a child there was little expected of me. I could bask in approval. I could eat to stupefaction. In fact, I remember eating almost a whole box of mint melt-aways before dinner was even served and no one even noticed.
After dinner, which was always served at 2, my cousin and I would direct our younger cousins, siblings and friends in a stunning version of the first Thanksgiving. At some point, the adults would be hushed and forced to witness our performance. Tolerantly, they would smile and clap. We’d bow modestly, convinced we were budding thespians. Later, we would lounge on our parents’ laps and doze to the rhythm of adult conversation.
Of course, it all changed inevitably, as we grew up. Now there are contingencies. My cousin and I have children and grandchildren who live at some distance and have in-laws’ holiday expectations to juggle. My uncle, aunt, and father are gone.(I don’t know what really happened to those murky relations). My mother has dementia and can’t be moved from the nursing home. So this Thanksgiving we will travel to Philly to join my cousin and her growing family. My children and step children, grandchildren and step grandchildren and sibling have other plans and other traditions this year. Though nostalgia and regret lurk, they won’t be allowed to take center stage.
This year, I’m trying to focus on the meaning of giving thanks, rather than on the holiday specifics- who is with us and who is not. One of my favorite quotes captures the idea of gratitude as a choice:
“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend…when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present- love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure- the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach
I choose to focus on my numerous blessings this Thanksgiving, 2013.
*glam·our also glam·or
1. An air of compelling charm, romance, and excitement, especially when delusively alluring.
2. Archaic A magic spell; enchantment