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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

No family really lives a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving. Life is easier once you accept that.

Then the unbearable happens. We lose someone in our family’s holiday portrait. The first year is the hardest.  The bigger the presence, the bigger the gap. Sometimes at that first holiday we feel as though we will never laugh again. Joy is a memory. 

How do we get through a holiday when we’ve lost someone we love and our hearts are breaking?

This morning at church, I saw a family who lost their matriarch last week. Her husband, children, and grandchildren sat together starting this hardest of Thanksgivings together on their knees.  You see them there, together, every Thanksgiving, just as you do every Sunday.  Grandma would have been with them, singing and savoring her family. Kleenexes were in some hands.  When we stood up to sing, the youngest grand-daughter, sitting by her grandpa, grabbed his hand and gave him a big hug. 

It was like death was the Grinch who tried to steal their Thanksgiving, but Susie Who stood in the family circle and began singing.

If I could paint like Norman Rockwell, I would have painted the scene of a family, with an empty seat in the pew, helping one another get through the grief and the holiday.

Grief comes in waves. We can manage when it recedes. But when it laps close to the shore of our hearts, we sometimes feel as though we’re drowning. That’s where the beauty of helping one another through the grief can save us. Just  when I need it the most, you can throw me a lifeline which I’ll return to you when it’s your turn.

No one will ever fill that empty chair in the family portrait. We carry it with us. With time, and with each other’s help, it grows easier. The Thanksgrieving we endure now will eventually transform again to Thanksgiving, when we can thank God for our loved ones and what they gave us. Our suffering will one day help us better reach out to others in the same situation.

When your Thanksgiving becomes a year of Thanksgrieving, grab your Kleenex, and reach out for your loved ones.

We have been there too and will help you endure. You are not alone – never have been, never were. If we help each other, we can both again say more easily:

Happy Thanksgiving. And mean it.

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I am thankful for…

Pumpkins.

Pumpkins make me happy. From Labor Day through Thanksgiving, my home is decorated with them. They remind me of the most precious gifts in my life:

My son –a high school freshman, he began raising pumpkins several years ago.  He’s grown varieties from Baby Boo white ones to this year’s experiment with Prizewinner giants – a few of which had to be wheeled out of the garden and lifted by 2 men.  One of his Prizewinners won a Special Merit at the Indiana State Fair and was the largest pumpkin exhibited by an Indiana 4-H member this year. Nine of his pumpkins decorate our front porch, and two are the giant Prizewinners.  Every time I come home or leave, I see our pumpkins, and they make me smile. Another decorated the news set of a local meteorologist.

My daughter – a high school junior, makes pumpkin rolls and pies, which we’ll enjoy this Thanksgiving.

My husband Richard – all through the summer, as we take our son to his pumpkin patch, we watch him work and then get thrill of seeing his exhibit at the State Fair.

Our family – when the harvest is good, we get to share pumpkins with area family members.  Richard’s cousins in New York grow the super giant pumpkins and sent photos to us, which inspired our son to go for the big ones.

Our friends – One of our family friends hosts our son’s pumpkin patch in his large rural garden. He taught our son how to get started with pumpkins and raise them well. When we have a good harvest, we share the fun with pumpkin gifts for friends. Our yard is too small and shady for pumpkin raising.

Jack traded a cow for some bean seeds to grow the vine he climbed to kill a giant. Nothing that dramatic happens in the real world. Our pumpkin seeds cost less than a cow.  We can’t climb the vines and don’t kill giants.  But they are powerful.

This Thanksgiving, we’ll sit around the table, covered with a pumpkin tablecloth and decorated by a pumpkin-shaped candle. I’ll look across the table at Richard and thank God for the blessings our pumpkins remind me to appreciate.

Maybe, for an extra treat,  we’ll start a new family tradition: a pumpkin seed spitting contest!

What reminds you of your most precious gifts this Thanksgiving?

(Today, I was asked to be a guest blogger at Mom Got Blog, writing on the topic, I am thankful for… After I wrote my first piece, I also wrote this one.)

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