It is Thanksgiving morning. It’s cold and it’s raining. The rest of my family is still asleep, but obviously, I’m not (because I’m writing this).
Thanksgiving, for me, is the ultimate start of the holiday rush. I’m sure it is for many of you as well. When I was younger, I remember the “old folks” telling me that the holidays were really about getting family together, and that the rest of the “stuff” surrounding the holidays were really just enjoyed by children. As a child, I couldn’t believe that. I mean, who doesn’t love getting presents and enjoying meals the size of shipyars? I didn’t realize, back then, that all the presents and food and gathering of families and so forth meant weeks of preparation, and tons of effort to pull it all off. And, as a child, I really didn’t care much about family dynamics.
A few years before my twin sister’s untimely and tragic death, she and I began to have a tug of war about where we would gather (what was left) of our family, for Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. These were the two holidays that meant to most to us as children, and therefore, as adults, too. She lived more than five hours away by car which meant one of us (with husband in tow) would have to suffer the expense, inconvenience, and indignity of traveling and sleeping in unfamiliar and usually uncomfortable, surroundings. Since I lived near my parents, while my mother was still alive, that meant that my sister was the one to travel to us. I understood her irritation, but it didn’t make sense to transport all of us to see just her and her husband. When my mother died, apparently, that seemed to level the playing field for her. My husband, father, and I flew to see her (once–never again!) and drove down once or twice. I resented it, but at least I didn’t have to deal with creating a Thanksgiving feast and putting up guests. We managed to find an equitable way to deal with New Years Eve–we met in the middle.
Then my sister died and my father became incapacitated. Suddenly, my husband and I found ourselves literally alone, without family. At first, it seemed like a burden had been lifted, but after the first year, when we “celebrated” alone, it seemed empty and sad. We made a show of Thansgiving with my husband’s sister and brother in law, but their idea of Thanksgiving was not a small, family celebration, but a huge group of people that we didn’t know and who didn’t even make a show of talking to us. So we sat there, silently for the most part. That made us feel even worse.
Then, once year, a friend of mine that I’ve known since first grade asked us to travel to Memphis with him and his wife to enjoy a new kind of Thanksgiving: one where we ate barbeque and listened to the blues. We have since traveled with them (on Thanksgiving and other times) and enjoyed ourselves a great deal. In a wierd way, we’ve created another type of Thanksgiving with these wonderful people, and they have become a part of the family we’ve lost. I wouldn’t say they replace family, but they are part of our new tradition and a welcome part of our lives.
I don’t miss the petty bickering about the holidays, but I do miss my sister –and even more strongly now that the holidays are beginning. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful as well as, perhaps, nostalgic. I’m grateful that I’m still alive, to remember family of times’ past, and especially my sister. I’m grateful that I’m able to keep the advicesisters spirit, alive. I’m grateful for the family I have that is left, even if I don’t see them that often. I’m hoping that they feel the same about me. But I’m also grateful for my friends and my soft and furry cats–and you, my advicesisters readers and fans. They (and you) are the ones that keep me going on a daily basis.
For me, the holidays are now about being appreciative of what you have, no matter how big or small. I hope you are grateful for something wonderful this Thanksgiving. If you are, feel free to leave a comment and share it!
Happy Thankgiving to all.