Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving: What does it really mean for me?

So, I was thinking that I needed to write a blog because I had not in a while. While brainstorming I came across a FB post from the wonderful ladies at APOOO(thanks Yas) and my blog post was born. Thanksgiving is a time that most of us associate with cooking, eating, shopping and football. How often do we really step back and appreciate the actual act of being thankful?

Thanksgiving has always had some pretty rigid traditions for my family:

  1. Meals have always been turkey with stuffing, ham, collard greens, homemade mac and cheese, rice(greens, or any vegetable for that matter, can not be served without rice when your family is from South Carolina), rolls, candied yams and sweet potato pies.

  2. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was on the TV and we all watched it together between kitchen duty. The girls were supposed to be on kitchen duty, but my sister somehow always seemed to have less of it. She really was just not that interested in cooking and did as little as possible, where as I always wanted to learn and try new things.

  3. The turkey legs were not eaten by anyone in my house so they were cut off, wrapped up and given to my paternal grandfather along with the sweet potato pie my mother made for him. He was from North Carolina and since my grandmother was from Massachusetts there were a lot of southern meals he missed that my South Carolina born and raised mother was always willing to make for him. When he passed away we never really did anything with the legs, it just never seemed right without him to give them to.

Once I met my husband and we started sharing the holidays together, some of his favorites were incorporated into the way I prepared my holiday meal:

  1. My turkey was no longer stuffed, I made dressing on the side like his mother.
  2. He needed to have potato salad with his ham(something I can have come to expect now).

  3. He actually eats the cranberry sauce(something I only saw my grandfather do in the past), so I had to start remembering to buy that stuff.

I never really paid much attention to Black Friday until well into my adult life. I am not sure when this tradition started, maybe it was there lurking all along and my mother never gave into the temptation. I have yet to get up at the crack of dawn and go shopping the morning after, but the $5.00 fleece and $15.00 sweaters at Old Navy are calling me to be there at 3am this year. Football is pretty much an every week thing for my household, so Thanksgiving only makes the masses happier. I have however always felt sorry for the players who had to play and were in different cities from their families. This same sentiment rings true with me at Christmas time.

One year I thought it would be nice for my family to go around the table and say what they were thankful for. That lasted a year or two and then everyone just looked at my like I was crazy. Since no one in my family wants to say what they are thankful for, I will use this platform to share what and who I am thankful for.

Who am I thankful for?

As I wrote this blog and thought back on the last year I realize that I am thankful for family. Good or bad, happy or sad, my past experience with my family has molded me into the person I am today. This holiday season we are all going to rally around and lift the spirits of my cousins who are experiencing their 1st holiday without their mother/wife. http://ladysilver915.blogspot.com/2009/09/what-does-your-dash-say-about-you.html
My cousin loved the holidays and spending time with family. It is going to be so strange to spend this time without her and I can not even begin to imagine how heavy her son and her husbands heart must be even more so now than it has been these past few months. My family has rallied around to become an even closer unit and help out where needed. I am really glad that we were not a family that only appreciated each other during the holidays. We got together just because, played guitar hero, broke bread together, emailed encouraging and silly things to each other, attending the kids functions when we could and just made sure that the words I love you were not only spoken but felt and meant.

I am so thankful for more than one person for many reasons:

  1. I am thankful for my spouse, especially after witnessing up close the extreme hurt of loosing a life partner.
  2. I am thankful for my children. With the disappearance and murder of a child right in a neighboring town, the pain of seeing a parent mourn for a child is still very fresh in my heart and I am glad I have not been made to face that.
  3. I am thankful that I still have my mother and my siblings to talk to. Distance has not hurt the strong family ties we share and I try to instill that same strong family tie in my children.
  4. I am thankful for my friends, both new and old. I appreciate my friends who understand that our friendship is strong enough that we do not need to talk everyday to be friends. I am thankful that they know a true friends place is not to judge, but will tell me when I am wrong and comfort me when I hurt.
  5. I am thankful for my extended family and find comfort in knowing that I have the type of family that can come together without judgement in times of need or sorrow, no matter what a persons circumstance may be. I am also thankful for those who are strong enough to tell those members who do judge and gossip when they are wrong.

Taking the good with the bad, despite the ones who slip and judge or gossip, I am thankful for my family. (Yeah, there is a story behind that gossip line since I said that twice so close together, but that is a story for another time and place. My sidebar - gossip always has a way of getting back around. Loving someone when they are down and embracing them just as family embraced you in your time of misjudgement is always a more heartfelt experience than the embarrassment of realizing your hurtful tongue has gotten back to some you say you love.)

What I am thankful for?

I am thankful that I have a job. In this economy, especially after witnessing, in my office, people I have worked with for years learning that they no longer had a job because of the economy. I work for an account who acquired a company and had to merge positions and cut more than 4000 jobs in the process, so I know how lucky I am to have a job. I am thankful that I have a roof over my head and food on the table. Let us not forget that while times may be tight for many of us, there are so many out there who do not even have the even the basic necessities of life. There are parents not sure where their children will lay their head or how they will be able to feed their family.

Happy Thanksgiving

Remember to give thanks!