The week of thanksgiving is upon us.
We all realize that we should be grateful every day, but we also reserve the fourth Thursday of November as our official Thanksgiving day. Through all our trials and obstacles, we all have many blessings. That's easy for some to say, while others may find themselves struggling.
I remember the first Thanksgiving without my father and the last Thanksgiving with my mother. I do not remember much about the last vacation with my father, as we had no idea it was a significant event. We did not know that he would suddenly leave us at 57 years of age. My mom was different. His doctor told us that it would be the last. So, for those of you who have an empty seat at your table, I'm sorry … I understand.
It is difficult to reconcile the loss of a loved one and, at the same time, be grateful. Yes, we understand in principle that we should be grateful for the time we enjoy together, but in practice, we are sad and even angry about our loss. Sorry. The only encouragement I can provide is that we never miss them, but the memories slowly change from the sadness we feel for our loss to the joy we will remember from our time together.
What is going through my mind at this time of year?
I find myself remembering Thanksgiving as a child.
For me, it was all about the family, the food and the parades. I loved watching my mom prepare the food. While cleaning the turkey, I held it like a puppet and made it dance on the counter … a practice that continued until my children stopped laughing and just rolled their eyes. I started the turkey dance again when my two grandchildren arrived. They still laugh.
The aromas, the sounds of the bands coming from the television, the huge balloons in the form of cartoon characters … everything is still fresh in my mind to this day. I have not been able to interest my grandchildren in the parades, which still surprises me. They are still a focal point of the memories of my childhood.
My memories of food are eating a stick! I always felt like a Viking at a banquet, holding that big turkey leg in my hand. I also remember my Aunt Helen and her purple Jell-O, mixed with whipped cream and shaped into a large donut shape. Less favorably, I also remember a green jelly with carrot shavings in the background and I wonder until today that they thought it would be a good idea. At the end of the meal, it was always almost completely intact, but every year it reappeared mysteriously.
Thanksgiving in my mind and in my heart is about getting together as a family, preparing food, enjoying the presence of loved ones and giving thanks.
This year is different, and I confess … it is challenging my ability to be grateful. Traditionally, almost all my family came to our house, stayed under our roof and celebrated for three or four days together. We have a large tablecloth that everyone would sign and date each year with several comments.
This year, instead of the more than 30 relatives from across the country, we will only have five at our table. New jobs, newborn babies and other reasons are kept away. My two children will be here, and I am grateful, but my daughter and son-in-law and my two grandchildren will spend Thanksgiving at home in California. I am grateful that you are together, healthy and with friends, but … I missed them selfishly. I guess there will be no turkey dancing this year.
Through all this I am grateful beyond words. Arlene and I are married and this is our 43rd Thanksgiving together. This year I became a cancer survivor. We have three healthy adult children, two healthy grandchildren and incredible siblings and cousins throughout the country.
We have great friends and work that is worth doing. I will finish my new book this year and cross my fingers to start preproduction (film) for two of my books, later this year.
I am also more grateful than the space I have left in this column for the many publications throughout the country that see a benefit in the publication "Speaking positively!". I find great joy in speaking with you in this way. Thanks for joining me every week.
Oh … and remember during this vacation … carrots and green jelly are a very bad idea. Resist the temptation.
When you sit around your table, do not let it pass, as if a light breeze brushes your cheek. Look around the table. Capture the moment and take it with you forever. As the song of the best showman says …
"I'm trying to hold my breath … let it go on like this … do not let this moment end."
I pray that you will find great joy in this vacation.
God bless you and your family.
Gary W. Moore is a columnist, speaker and author of three books, including the award-winning and critically acclaimed "Playing with the Enemy." Follow Gary on Twitter @ GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com