When I was a youngster, Thanksgiving meant Ritz crackers and cheese, mince meat and pumpkin pie made from scratch by my grandma, cranberry sauce, yams, turkey, rolls, olives and movie marathons. I always looked forward to my grandpa stopping by to drop off the pies and chatting with my mom over a cup of coffee. We never had any large family get togethers but it always included mom, dad, myself and my two younger sisters.
Over the years, as my nieces and nephews have grown and my sisters have moved away, we have had a few big gatherings. We would have a houseful – people sleeping in the spare bedroom, on the couch, air mattress and the floor. These were Christian’s favorite Thanksgivings.
For the last 2 years, the three of us have had a quiet meal while the fourth chair remains empty. We will visit the cemetery tomorrow morning and do our best to enjoy another Thanksgiving without our boy. Christian always loved and appreciated his Thanksgiving meal. He also remained thankful for the smallest of things until his last breath.
Every time I see something beautiful, I wonder if Christian is showing me what he always appreciated while he was on this earth.
I am thankful each and every day that I was able to take care of Christian for 21 years. I am thankful for the conversations we had while I cared for him, the things he did to make me smile and for the strength I had to care for my boys with little to no help. I am thankful for everything Christian taught me and for the things I continue to learn as I care for Andrew. When you care for someone who cannot leave the house because of their failing health, you learn just what we should truly be thankful for – a dove on the sidewalk, the warmth of a blanket fresh out of the dryer, a short visit from a dear friend, music, hugs, a birdsong, the smell of fresh coffee, a clean house or hearing the sound of the warm air flowing through the vents on a chilly winter night. The more I become thankful for, the more reasons I find to praise God. Praising God for the small miracles opens our hearts to the bigger gifts. Our lives become filled with peace and unexplainable joy as we carry Thankgiving into our everyday lives.