One of the things I love most about this time of year, is that the very essence of the holidays creates the space for mindfulness and reflection. It's as if gratitude is in the air if you just stop for a moment and breathe it in. But for me, I seem to have this deeper noticing of my surroundings and my life. I become very inward, but not in the self-seeking kind of way. My soul quiets and I pause more and my prayers become more frequent and more thankful rather than sparse and "asky."
Thanksgiving has been one of my most favorite holidays since I was a little girl. It's a day that is rich with tradition and meaning. The more I think about it, I think I almost love it more than Christmas. But all of that has to do with my family. Even with all of our flaws and wounds and dysfunction, I don't know many families like ours.
The day starts around noon. As the families arrive, you can feel a warmth there. A genuine, comforting warmth that is more than just our bond as relatives. It's the presence of Christ and what He means to all of us individually. There is an abundance of food already - chips and dips, and shrimp of course, because Poppy loves it. And it seems to be a day for abundance and indulgence and we celebrate that well with the amount of food that is prepared. Sometimes there is football and sometimes not, because other than my Uncle, we're not a big football family.
Before the meal is ready to be eaten, we'll gather in a circle and my Poppy will read the timeless words of Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation. The president who initiated this holiday - where as a nation under God, we would reserve a day specifically to give thanks to Him as that nation. As I've grown older, I pay more attention to the words as he reads them. To the man behind the piece of paper and brown rimmed glasses that I call my Poppy - my Grandfather. I cannot imagine a Thanksgiving without him, and as we all get older, I find myself especially grateful that my Grandparents are still here with me to share in the day.
The feasting begins. We eat and we talk and we laugh. Sometimes we remember and reminisce about Thanksgivings of yesterday. I love how Thanksgiving sounds like fellowship and togetherness. Even as a young girl and teenager, I remember sitting there listening to the conversations and laughter and feeling so safe and content. Wanting to memorize my surroundings and bottle up those moments and save them for the days when I needed a bit of security and ease.
Over the years, I've had to live with the familiar ache knowing that while it would bring me joy and comfort to talk about my mom and the memories we have of her from this time of year, that for most, it feels painful and awkward to do that. I'm more comfortable with tears and maybe even with grief. Kindness has looked like accepting my family for where they are at with her memory and respecting their own places of grief and sorrow. Letting God have my holed-heart and asking Him to fill it instead of looking to my family to do that for me. I've learned to sit and be present in all that isn't there. And I've learned to sit and be present in all that is there.
This year hasn't gone as I expected or planned for it to. There have
been disappointments and hiccups and in some ways, I've feel like I've
just been floating through 2012 trying to make sense of it all. Other
than my marriage that God miraculously and graciously held together and
of course, the blessing of another pregnancy, I've watched my
relationships with my family grow and heal and blossom. Especially with
my sister and my dad, but mostly with my Robin. In all of the places
that I'm left with questions or doubts or longings, I can clearly see
where God has restored the years to me that the locust took. Where he
has brought healing to my heart and how that has trickled down to the
relationships I share with my family.
That is the place I'm sitting this year. Aware of what was lost, and knowing that I've taken the time to grieve after spending most of my life avoiding that pain. Finally being in a place where my grief has allowed my heart to open again to see the glory of what isn't and what is. And having a peace that surpasses any need for for understanding.
I'm thankful for healing and that there really is a time for all things.