Today is Thanksgiving. A celebration of food, family, friends and gratefulness. I spent a lot of time today, while cooking our meal, thinking about past Thanksgivings and about the things I am most grateful for today and every day.
When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was a big family affair. My mom, sister and I would travel from Portland, OR to spend the long weekend with family in Tacoma, WA. For the long Thanksgiving weekend, we would stay at my Grandma’s house some years and others were spent at my Aunt and Uncles home. Thanksgiving Day was filled with laughter, fun and food. My mom, aunt (her sister), grandma and my older cousins who had kids of their own, would do all of the cooking. The smells were wonderful. My sister and I would play while they cooked and when our youngest cousins were there we all played together. The men watched football until the meal was ready.
And then it would be time to eat. The food was delicious. All of the traditional foods. And it was one of the few days that my mom did not make me eat everything….I could skip the foods I didn’t like. After we were all stuffed, my sister and I would help with the cleanup. And then it would be time for dessert…. The pies! Pumpkin pie was my favorite. Still is one of my favorites. My aunt’s birthday was always right around Thanksgiving, so we also had Birthday cake and celebrated her birthday. The whole weekend was a flurry of fun, laugher, food and love. I miss those Thanksgivings! And I am so grateful to have those wonderful memories to make me smile on days like this. I am also grateful for family traditions…old and new.
As I cooked the meal today, I felt the presence of my mother and of my mother-in-law. Strong, beautiful, loving women who made my Thanksgiving, every year a special one. I am so grateful for those two women in my life.
I tend to try to find things every day to be thankful for. A grateful heart brings me joy. But today I am even more focused on gratefulness, not just what I am grateful for in my day, today…but what I am grateful for all year… and what I am grateful for in my life….
Today, I am grateful for—
My immediate family—my husband who keeps me grounded, who gives me strength when I just can’t seem to find it, who loves me at my best and at my worst, who makes me laugh, cry, and roll my eyes. And my two sons and my daughter-in-law who give me joy in so many ways and who showed me just how much my heart can love.
My extended family—the mother I gained when my dad remarried, the woman who has shown me how strong a woman can be and who is an example to me of a strong woman of faith and who loves unconditionally. The siblings I have and their spouses—all of them, the sister I grew up with, the sister and brothers I gained through my dad’s remarriage and the brothers and sisters I have reunited with—so very grateful to have them all in my life. My birth family–aunts and uncles and cousins all back in my life, giving me back the missing puzzle pieces. The many nieces and nephews I have gained over the years. The extended family I gained when my son married, having them as a part of my family has enriched my life in so many ways! How lucky am I?! My heart is overflowing!
My friends, the ones I count as family. Near and far, wherever they are they are always close in heart. My boys “other mother” and her kids who are like my kids and who I watched grow up and become amazing adults. Friends made in high school, the life long friends who are always there. The friends made in the Air force, making military life bearable and fun. The friends made through a shared journey. The friends here, who get me out of the house and have become my support network. And this year, I am especially grateful for reconnecting with a dear old friend whom I had longed to have back in my life and now that we have found each other again (just over a year ago, now), the many years apart vanished, we picked up right back where we were when we were teenagers. Friends truly are the family we choose.
I am grateful for another year. For good health. For a support network that keeps me going. For family traditions. For the memories that have helped to shape who I am. And for love.
And I am grateful to God for this wonderful life. It is not always perfect. It is not always easy. I have traveled my share of difficult roads. But I have always come through them, stronger than I thought I was and with God by my side. And the good in my life far out ways any of the bad. This is a wonderful life!