Two things you need to know before reading this post:
1. I'm going to live through the next month or so on my blog, and it will not always be happy, and I might write through tears at times, and the writing may not be great. In fact, the writing is unlikely to even be mediocre. Some posts will likely be play-by-play, "how I lived through" this moment in time.
2. Thanksgiving. I love it. I look forward to it. I enjoy the purpose, the ambiance, the family, cooking with family, relaxing together, laughing, talking...It's always a joy.
I wasn't sure I would have any of that this year. I prayed for joy (and I continue to do so now). I invited some of my aunts and uncles for the holiday thinking that I absolutely could not be alone on Thanksgiving, not that I would technically be "alone" with my husband and kids in the house, but we were facing two empty chairs at our table this year, as most of you know. Typically I host my parents and whoever else can make it each year for Thanksgiving. I like a full house on this holiday. Two years ago, we had my parents, one uncle, and an Amish family of 6!
It turned out to be a lovely day. My Aunt Bonnie and Uncle John came down from Toledo on Wednesday and stayed until Friday afternoon. I got a lot of baking and cooking prep done on Wednesday, and Thanksgiving Day cooking was relatively relaxed. I almost forgot to make potatoes, and the turkey roaster came unplugged who knows when (I checked it the old-fashioned way without a thermometer), but the meal was perfect and served 45 minutes into the one hour window I gave myself, which is what I call "on time." And, Bonus! Uncle Frank stopped by for a little while.
I wasn't sure how this holiday would go. I missed my parents profusely leading up to it. I had a dream early on Thanksgiving morning (after the turkey was in the oven and I was sleeping on the couch), and, in that dream, Mom sat holding my hand while runner her other hand along my brow as I slept. I felt Mom's presence and absense in many ways, and I felt Dad's too.
When dinner was over and I realized I forgot the cranberry sauce? I remembered the Christmas two years ago when I did that exact same thing, but Dad was too polite to say anything and ate his meal without it even though he made sure I had bought some. When I deviated from my mom's dressing recipe in order to make a gluten-free version, I thought about how much my mama would not like that dressing stuffed into the turkey (it was fantastic, by the way!), and I smiled a little.
Hmm. I just realized as I was reflecting on last Thanksgiving that I actually wore the same sweater this Thanksgiving Day that my mama wore on her very last earthly Thanksgiving Day. Mama's cozy chenille sweater can't be beaten.
So, on this holiday that I thought would likely be the most difficult of all, I managed to mostly hold myself together. There were some tears in the kitchen, and pangs of lonliness, which were deepest when I made Mama's Apple Pie.
Oh how Daddy loved that pie...
There is so much to be thankful for. Can you imagine giving thanks in heaven? That's what my folks are doing, and they get the whole "give thanks continually" thing and don't require a single day, set aside for giving thanks. That has been my focus this year, giving thanks in all circumstances, all year long, while riding a roller-coaster of emotions, when life feels catastrophic and lonely, and your heart feels crushed...
Thanksgiving in all things.
All the time.
Thank you, Father, for holding them in Your loving, safe arms. Thank You, Father, for taking away their pain and giving them perfect healing. Thank You for provision, for Aunt Bonnie and Uncle John, for kids who are exuberant and kind and helpful, for a husband who prays me through it all. Thank You, Father, for all You have taught me this year. I love You.