It has been very difficult to decide what to do about Thanksgiving Day this year.
Should we skip it altogether......no.
Should we go to someone else's house?...if someone invites us....Why would they risk a tearful bunch of grievers at their table?....[They did, we received several invitations.]
Should we forge through and do the best we can here at home?...I don't know.....why must I decide.
Should we go to a cabin in the woods---totally change the traditions?....We could.
Should we travel to my brother's home in PA; go to FL to see treasured family there? I do not have the energy to do it.
Should we invite another family here? I don't want hostessing responsibilities...I just can't.
Should each of the "children" invite one friend who is alone....no, they don't know anybody who is alone.
Should we go work at a homeless shelter.....maybe
Lots of choices ..none seemed right Couldn't I just put the world on pause for awhile and I will see you all in 7-8 months? that sounds good...very good. but life keeps pressing in.
What will Gene's parents want to do--they have not spoken on this issue AT ALL.
Finally I come to a conclusion that seems possible. I received some good counsel from an international e-loop I am a part of. stay home, honor our memories...continue to give thanks..relax the standards that have caused conflict on other Thanksgivings. And the best advise...if we go someplace else then next year will be the first Thanksgiving at home without Gene. I don't want to do THIS again! So that made a lot of sense!
[I have a very idealistic view of the holiday where everyone is dressed up and the house is all straightened and the meal is all done and the eating is slow and leisurely and much chatting occurs throughout the meal and the shared clean up time. Traditions of sharing thankful, heartfelt gratitude to the Lord of Glory, remembering the origins of the Day. Then fun cooperative, good-natured, competitive games [and throw in some rosy cheeked children who have been playing outside for an hour] who now want to join in the games and wonderful loving conversations that are ongoing....mind you I haven't been to one of these yet but I want one so badly.....it is the way it is supposed to be. Norman Rockwell told me so.
My Christmas ideal is not nearly so precise nor demanding...it's this Thanksgiving one that fusses at me.
We settled on the idea of staying at home just the 4 of us and sharing in the responsibilities of the prep of the food and and house. That morning early write out our traditional Tom Turkey Thanksgiving decorations. Taking the dogs out for a walk in the park and having a VERY non traditional [new traditional?] breakfast of bagels and donuts and fruit and hot drinks as we walk in the park. Come home to the turkey finishing and resting and cook the last couple of items [dumplings and peas w/ pearl onions!] Have our meal together and share just a few of our own past and this years Tom Turkey and then cry our way through all of Gene's recorded thanks through all the years. It will be difficult but oh so sweet to remember all the things he gave thanks for. Year after year after year he would say the same things ..his salvation, his wife, his children and then one or two different ones.
Then the Lord spoke to me a day or two ago...how powerful His words are, how real and true and comforting....was it a scripture....no. Was it a comfort...not really. Was it a truth....yes [as always!]
He asked me to reflect on the first Thanksgiving. And dropped a new thought into my reflections.
How many of the Pilgrims celebrating that first harvest and survival in Plymouth were doing it with....everyone is dressed up and the house is all straightened and the meal is all done and the eating is slow and leisurely and much chatting occurs throughout the meal and the shared clean up time. Traditions of sharing thankful, heartfelt gratitude to the Lord of Glory, remembering the origins of the Day. Then fun cooperative, good-natured, competitive games [and throw in some rosy cheeked children who have been playing outside for an hour] who now want to join in the games and wonderful loving conversations that are ongoing..... I will tell you this, not a one of them! Of the 102 persons landing and staying in Plymouth 49 had died by that first Thanksgiving. Of the 18 women... 4 had survived. I suspect they faced a choice worse than mine this year. Every one of them were grieving family members and friends lost. Only 53 total survived that first year. but they chose...they CHOSE.......to give thanks to God, a solemn day of prayer and praise and thanks....giving. and they were joined by a 2:1 ratio of the so called indians who could easily have wiped out the remainder but chose not to do so. They too embraced the idea of giving thanks or at least extending friendship...remember Tsquantum [or Squanto] had become a Christian under the care of the monks in Spain many years before. So he could understand and share this new concept with all attending.
So...if they could endure the loss not only of all the family left in England and Holland but also the loss of half the people they lived with, wives, husbands, moms and dads and children, friends and relatives and CHOOSE to give thanks for what God was and would be doing in their lives...then so can I .
Had it been difficult? .... yes
Will it be difficult? ....yes
Did it get better......yes
Will it get better...By the testimony of the Lord, yes.
I choose to be Thankful ...every...day [and listening to God and writing it down helps.]