Friday, December 3, 2010

Giving Thanks for Change

In 2005, my long-standing Thanksgiving tradition was turned upside down with the death of my Grammy.  For the previous, well, ever Thanksgiving had been held at Grammy and Grampy's house.  Even after going away to college then getting married, no matter where I'd been living at the time returning to Grammy and Grampy's for Thanksgiving had been a requirement.

In 1996, we'd flown from Houston, TX to introduce our oldest daughter to my grandparents for the first time at Thanksgiving.  It was our last visit with my Grampy.  We returned a few weeks later for his funeral.  My sisters and mother stayed with Grammy through the holidays to comfort and lend a presence. 

After Grammy's death in October of 2005, it really didn't occur to me that Thanksgiving would be that different.  We'd always gathered together, the house was still there.  Of course, we'd be at Grammy's for Thanksgiving.  

My mother cancelled Thanksgiving that year.  After hours and days and weeks of tears, I struggled to figure out how to give thanks in a different place without the people for whom I am most thankful.  I started, as I so often do, by praying and buying lots of wine.  I invited people that I could stand to fail in front of to join us for dinner and began fashioning a new Thanksgiving tradition.  All the while I was prying my tightly gripping fingers from the old traditions that I had never intended to foresake. 

I'll admit, that first year was the hardest.  There was enough laughter, fellowship, food and wine to ease the transition.  I still longed for a family Thanksgiving but from that year I understood that family didn't necessarily mean blood and tradition didn't necessarily mean duplicate.

This year, we spent our Thanksgiving in a hotel, with a really cool water park and had a ton of fun visiting with my sister, brother in law, nephew, neices and my brother in law's family. 
Five years ago, I would never have been able to enjoy such a treat.  I would have only been able to see what was missing and try to cope with the loss.  This year, I was able to enjoy each and every minute of being thankful for all that I've been given.

Sometimes thanksgiving really has nothing to do with turkey.  Sometimes it takes years to understand that.

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