Thanksgiving has always been thought of as a day for families to gather, enjoy a meal that takes hours to prepare, minutes to consume, and days to clean up after. I'm eight hundred miles away from any family, so holidays are often a bittersweet time for me. It's a time when I think about the ways my life is blessed every single day.
I'm blessed to have great friends who think of me as family, and I think of them the same way. I have much for which to be grateful. I have a job. I even have a job I don't mind going to most days, and absolutely enjoy at times. I have a roof over my head, a car to drive, and a freezer filled with food--thanks to said job.
I've been blessed to have the opportunity to pursue my dream of writing. As for success, well, it depends upon how you measure that. I have 27 novels, 3 novellas, and 5 short stories published. Is that success? Or is the success in the fact that a fair number of readers enjoy my writing, and in the fact that I find such gratification in the whole process. Writing and publishing might never pay the rent. But it makes me happy. And that, my friends, is success.
I've been blessed with a wonderful, crazy, sometimes odd, always funny and welcoming family. I love watching the next generation and the one after that growing up, taking hold of the family reins, seeing the future in the faces of my grand-nephews and grand-niece, and praying for a better world for them.
I take time during the holidays to pause, to look back, and to remember with both tears and laughter those family gatherings of my childhood. The women in the kitchen from early, early in the morning stuffing the turkey, baking pies, and laughing. The men usually outside with their heads under the hood of one car or another. I preferred their company and learned more about carburetors than I did about casseroles. There was always laughter--whether at one another or at some funny story or joke that was told. And the stories--oh, the stories that were passed around that table as easily as the turkey platter. Those stories seemed insignificant at the time. What precious memories they have become.
Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for the many ways we've been blessed and gifted. A time to show gratitude and to embrace those who have less than we have. Now, this may sound crazy, but what if we lived that way all the time? Every. Single. Day. What if we were first thankful for what we've been given, and then what if we looked to those who had less and broke off a piece of bread (or five dollars for gas, or a warm jacket, or a moment of listening and being with, or giving voice on their behalf), and just gave something from ourselves and of ourselves.
I know a lot of people who do this. They do it every day. Perhaps you do, too. But it can become overwhelming. So we need to hold one another up, remind one another that we're all in this life together. We need to remember those things for which we are thankful, and we need to give others something for which they can be thankful. Sometimes all that takes is a look, a notice, a smile, a welcome. Because, when you get right down to it, we're all part of one big, crazy, sometimes odd, funny, hurting, needing, and generously gifted family.
There is so much that can and does divide us. So much that tries to tell us we are too different, more than/less than, better than. But those are lies. I may not always agree with you. I may not always be kind. I may not always be generous. I may not always be mindful. But know that, under all my own human imperfections, I am grateful and thankful for you.
Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. Share old stories, and make new ones to pass on.
(As an act of kindness, I removed all the calories from all the pies. You're welcome.)