This Thanksgiving

Change. It is a fact of life. Everyone, at some point, must accept it, learn to deal with it, adapt to it.  But that can very so very hard.

Usually I write about everything I am thankful for in the Month of November – a new list every day.  This Thanksgiving that seems too strange. I do look around and acknowledge the many blessings.  But I am not sure how to act really.  I am very thankful Dad is still here, thankful for my wonderful boyfriend, the fact that we have been blessed to have such a wonderful home and are building a life of love. That I have such wonderful friends who are there for me and love me, that I have a job I love at a great company.

And that I had 42 wonderful Thanksgivings with my mother.  That I was there in her last moments. And for all the wonderful talks and whispers and moments we shared, mother and daughter.  When she looked at me in the hospital and said “I know you truly love me.”  When she smiled and said “I know what that means.”  When I read the letter and notes she wrote labeled “Don’t open unless I am dead”…and how truly funny they were.  Thankful for the way she always knew just what to say, and when to say it, to make me smile and feel better.  Thankful for the taco soup and fresh cut corn that she froze, just for us, knowing she was going to pass. Still taking care of us, even now.

This Thanksgiving will be very different from the ones in the past.  Every Thanksgiving has been at my parent’s place.  Even when I lived far away, the trip would be made to make sure I was there with the rest of the family.  There was always so much food because Mom loved cooking for all of us.  The exception was last year when I begged to have the holiday feast at my place.  Mom and Dad reluctantly agreed and made the trip up to the big city.  It would turn out to be the last with my Mom.  My sister and her three boys were there too.  I treasure those memories.

This is the first year in my life that Mom will not be here for Thanksgiving, or Christmas.  This change is not welcome, but it is as it is and so I must adapt.  Thanksgiving is coming whether Mom is here or not.  And so this year we will spend Thanksgiving around M’s mother’s table. I am thankful for their generosity of taking us in. And no doubt there will be lots of love around that table. Truth be told Dad and I are at a bit of a loss this Thanksgiving…and holiday season in general.

But that is the thing about change – it opens up new opportunities. New ways of thinking about and doing things, and new possibilities.  This Thanksgiving may have a melancholy feel, but it can still be special.  This Thanksgiving is about love. And love is always a good thing.  Because love feeds the Human Spirit, fills in all of our cracks and makes us stronger.

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

This Thanksgiving, as I look back on all that is and has been in my life, I find that there are more things for which to be thankful than I can count.  It has been a year full of the best, the hard, the long and more surprises than I thought possible.  From my sister and nephew moving in, to supporting them and being the head of the household, to them moving out and standing on their own, to Mom and Dad coming up every 4 weeks, to having 7 people and 5 cats at my house at any given moment…what a year!!

And through it all, everything we have needed has been right there. We may not have lived in luxury, things may have had to be juggled every now and then, I’ve had to work two jobs more than once this year, but there we have not gone without. There has been plenty of everything. Plenty of work, plenty of love, plenty of faith, plenty of wine, plenty of food…plenty of whatever was needed.

And there has been plenty of gratitude and thankfulness along the way., This year in particular, I have been thankful for everything that has crossed my path. Because this year, I have been, oh so aware of the gentle precarious balance that it takes in this life to make everyday work right and peacefully. It’s been a year of great fortune, and great struggle.

This year has seen the end of the legal battle, huge advances in my career, the beginning of a new career for my sister, Dad’s treatments being successful, a new car and an amazing love brought into  my life. My family is all together and healthy. And that this moment, life is perfect. I could not ask for anything more (maybe chocolate that has no weight gain?).

And this year, as I look back it is more than anything, the year of thanks and gratitude. And as I say my prayers around that table this year, I give special thanks for these, and so many other things this year, too many to list, too personal to make public.

Adventures in Turkey Land

The remainder of the weekend was met with much laughter and togetherness. I don;t think any of us has had a better time for Thanksgiving. It was truly wonderful. And comical.

I got up Saturday morning to help Dad with a few outside chores around the yard. Now my parents have chickens because they like organic eggs, or yard eggs as they are often called.  I opened the back door only to see one of my parents 4 chickens running across the yard as fast as it could. Not far behind her was another one – the two of them running back to the pin like they had been caught doing something bad. I could help but watch them completely amused. Not something you usually see before finishing your first cup of coffee.

My mother planned to have my sister and I go through her many Christmas ornaments since she has decided not to put up a Christmas tree anymore. This is the end of an era, truly. Christmas has always been a huge deal at Mom’s house, the putting up and decorating of the tree the crux of the activity. It was always fun for the entire family and from which many of the family Christmas traditions have come. So for the last time, my Dad and I completed the annual Christmas Box March.  This tradition is taking all the boxes of Mom’s Christmas ornaments out of storage in one of their many buildings and marching them up the hill and across the yard into the house where Mom has designated a space for them. But this is no ordinary March with a few boxes of Christmas stuff, no. This is a march worthy of it’s own parade.

They have been married 45 years, and that is 45 years of Mom collecting all kinds of ornaments. There are ornaments of every size shape and color imaginable. They shine, they sparkle, they glitter, sing, swing, sway, hold, light up, din down and everything in between. Indeed, it is a display of everything Christmas on the tree with angels, Santa’s, mice, dear, cats, crosses, nativities, stockings, eggs, drums, boats, candy canes, Bibles, Christmas books, balls, icicles, there is even a Christmas Octopus. There are so many ornaments you literally can only see them all upon large and long inspection of the Christmas tree. Oh, and then there are the snitch baskets, can’t forget those.

When my father and I were done, we had marched 24 boxes of Christmas decorations into the house. Yes, 24 boxes. This does not include the actual Christmas tree – which is 10 feet high and 6 feet wide at the base.   It weighs about 150 pounds and is actually in a giant duffel bag big enough to hold 10 bodies.  One of us is usually in charge of getting this giant monstrosity and dragging it uphill, across the yard and into the house. But not this year, which inspired both relief and a bit of melancholy all at the same time. And we still did not find all of her ornaments.

Going through the ornaments and dividing them up was not as painful as one might have thought. My sister and I are so different that we liked different ornaments, and the ones we both liked we agreed to “share” and take turns with every Christmas. This should be much fun. When I am done decorating this year, it will no doubt look like Christmas exploded in my house. and I will love every bit of it. I brought back ornaments, candle holders, mantle decorations, wall hanging, table centerpieces, Santa salt and pepper shakers, teddy bear door guards, door hangers, place mats and much more.

There of course, was also the traditional wine run, standard when all of us get together. Along with so much laughter between my sisters misbehaving feet, the snowmen hanging and other such silly things.

Before I left there was of course the traditional Dad Looking at The car time. We have decided that my mechanic needs to take a look at few things. There was the Mom Giving Away Plants to my Nephew Activity, wherein everyone congregates in the greenhouse and Mom proudly shows off her fine green friends. There are many oooooohs and aaaaaaaaahhhs. Dad and I picked persimmons, Mom and I had great conversations as I drank coffee every morning with her. And then there was also the traditional “Gram Breakfast’ that is world famous. Or at least famous in our family.

And in the four days that have passed, I have eaten more than I have in the past four months. And my skinny pants…are just a little too tight. Amazing how months of working out and staying fit can be completely undone in one holiday. Oh, but it was worth it. Cheesecake with Mom and Dad, midnight sundae cones, chocolate covered peanuts just because, lots of snacks, grilled cheese sandwiches, mac n cheese that is so yummy, wine and other delicious home cooked goodness from the Kitchen of Mom.

All in all, it was a great holiday, a great visit and a great time. i have so much fow which I am thankful. I have so much in my life that brings me joy. Life is good and I am happy.

The Big Turkey

Thanksgiving. A day of the 3 F’s” Family, Food and Fun. And this holiday has delivered, but in a rather quiet way.

Most Thanksgivings are full of activity; a hectic flurry of hurry.  Traveling, cooking, eating, drinking, laughing, shopping and talking.  It’s loud, noisy, fast and furious.

But this year it is quiet. Simple. Wonderful.

It is the Thanksgiving we did not think we would have – we nearly lost my dad 5 times this past year, so it is very special for us. And instead of loud and hectic, we seem to be quietly appreciating the moments we have with each other. I listen to my Dad’s voice, close my eyes and I want to memorize it, record it forever in my mind. Picking fruit off the fruit trees with him, laughing at his jokes, riding into town, and just being with my dad.

But it has been a great visit with my Mom too. Lots of long conversations that don’t happen when time is rushed into holiday activities.

I made the famous family cheesecakes – One pineapple,  one strawberry and one peach. And we sat down after dinner and enjoyed two of them, just the three of us. Tomorrow my sister comes with my nephews, and these moments will expand as their universe meets ours. The big bang, as families gather in love and comfort. It may sound corny to some, but these are the sweet days that fill the heart and keep you warm in the cold dark hours of life.

And we have all manged to eat ourselves silly. I have snacked just about every hour. Why? Because it’s there, and it’s good and I can. And the Dreadmill will be used much int he coming weeks. The food has not been extravagant, just especially appreciated and the company dearly loved. Ever notice how great company makes any meal better?

Yes, these quiet moments have been like heartbeats. But when has even a single heartbeat not been important? And put them all together, and you have a wonderful life, with heartbeats quietly at the center.

And in these moments, I realize I have everything I have wanted and prayed for. In this time, in these moments, life is amazing and I am happy.

And that is what this Thanksgiving has been to me.

Sitcom Moment #533: Thermostat Natzi

Every family has that one thing that someone is just a nut about.  It is the kind of thing in which sitcoms are made because  when you find yourself in those moments, you literally think, This would be really funny if I were watching it on TV.   Many of these moments happened this holiday weekend especially centered around the inside temerature.  There is a running joke in my family about the Thermostat Nazi.  Very similar to the soup Nazi.

It has been this way as long as I can remember. Even as a little girl I remember my father being very possessive of the thermostat. It was only the adults who were allowed to alter the temperature, well actually it was only my Dad. He was the Thermostat.  And somehow he knew if we were just thinking about changing the temperature. He had a sixth sense when it came to that thing, and if we changed it he would appear out of no where faster than a hunting dog on a hot trail.

Always one to have the latest in gadgets, he was one of the first to instal a digital thermostat. He was giddy with excitement as he hooked this new complicated device, this magical instrument that he could program with secret codes that we could not crack, and thus we would no longer be able to change the temperature. And indeed it was a formidable foe, with heat sensors, codes, and zones.  Until one day I discovered that if you breathed on the heat sensor, in essence tricking the new computerized thermostat into thinking it was suddenly 96.8 degrees in the house, it would turn on.

Now, my father is a good man, actually a great man. He is my hero and has taught me about having integrity, being honest, keeping your word, as that is truly the only thing for which a man can be judged. He has built an very successful business on the principles of honesty and integrity, and indeed,  based on his word alone, he can make or break another’s career. But he is obsessive when it comes to that thermostat and the inside temperature.

When he and my mother built the house in which they now live, he made sure to add a very complex thermostat system, with zones, digital sensors all over the house, and even more complex codes.  And as he has gotten o0lder, bless his heart, he has become more and more cold natured. So, it will be 85, yes 85 in the house and he will have a jacket on while the rest of us are melting. And try cooking in a house when the starting temperature is 79…not pretty.

It is the women in my family that have the reputation for being the most stubborn, and this is a trait rarely seen in my father…except with the thermostat. But I have to say that I am very proud of him this year. That even though he was cold, he did, after seven people complained of melting, turn that thermostat down, and kept it down to a comfortable level for most in the house.  And that is one of the many reasons why I love my Dad, the Thermostat Nazi.


There is much to write and post, but it is late. Today was another wonderful day filled with laughter and happiness. I am truly blessed to have such a close family.

Sleeping late is a wonderful luxury, and so easy to do here, as I catch up on rest. This past week has been hectic, but feeling completely caught up on sleep is about one night away. We ate an assortment of gormet cheese and left overs, delicious turkey sandwiches and deserts intil we were all once again in a food coma. Dinner was beyond scrumtious as we ate home cooking fiit for a king. The night was finished off by sitting around a bondfire sipping wine and great conversation.

Tomorrow we are taking the boat out, he and I. Surprisingly, Dad is letting my guest take the boat out – something he does not usually do. But my family likes my guest as there is an ease and innocence about us. He is very intelligent and educated, and my family loves talking with him about literature, history, artitecture….anything but politics really. He knows Shakespeare inside and that is fun as we swap lines from different plays, though he always beats me. It is not often I meet a man who knows more or who can keep up, and he seems to match my intellect and that is exciting.

I am enjoying getting to know him, this guest, as is my family. It is amazing the difference between he and my ex…my ex flat out told my mother he did not like her, talked very roughly to my father and stole money from them. My guest is kind and respectful. As my mother puts it,”He fits.”

We are also putting up the Christmas tree tomorrow, having friends over and grilling out- guest showing off his grilling skills. No doubt a good time will be had by all. Regardless of what happens between he and I, I will remember this Thanksgiving as one of the best, mostly because, all because, of the health and happiness of all those I love, and the wonderful memories being made. I am blessed.


They say the way to a mans heart is through his stomache, they way to a woman’s heart, at least for me anyway, is through my family. This Thanksgiving is special, because of Dad’s cancer, because of what was last Thanksgiving, because of of who I am bringing, because of so many reasons.

As we drove to the family homestead, we came upon a car accident. We were the first on the scene and we jumped out to check those involed. He went to one car, I went to check on the other. Both were ok, only minor injuries, though the cars looked more serious. It made me think of my own family and how we are right now, on this day, in this moment, this holiday, to all be together. You never know when it will be the last. My own brush with death makes me all too aware of that realization.

So this Thanksgiving, I look around at my family and the ease my guest fits in and am so very Thankful. Life can change in an instant, with a car accident, a violent attack, a diagnosis, any number of things. The fragility of life cannot be forgtten. So be safe and be good to each other.

Let the Madness Ensue!

It is that time of year again, that mad, mad holiday season.  And the mad dash begins, at least for me, to get everything done in time and on time.  OK, so I am perpetually late for everything, so who am I kidding about the on time part? But one can always hope.

Today I am working. I came in early so I could leave early, and I will make a mad dash to the grocery store, then home to clean and pack for the weekend trip, and get everything ready for my weekend company as well. A I am going out of town, some good friends are coming in to town and will be staying at my place.  Clean sheets and towels need to be placed, as well as instructions for the new security system, along with making sure everything they need is available.

There is vacuuming, dusting, picking up, litter box duty, making sure all dishes are done and a thousand other little details to see to so that there stay is comfortable. Then there is all I need to do to pack and get ready for the trip. The car, the coolers, the plants, the everything else. Getting my nephew situated. Getting to bed early and getting up at the crack of dawn, hitting the Waffle House for coffee and hitting the road.  The crowd at the family homestead will be a large on this year and there will be much laughter, wine, tears, love and memories shared. And lots of pictures.  I am the unofficial family photographer and I will make sure there are plenty of candid shots taken.

After gobbling up all the turkey, there will be the mad dash for the holidays…the shopping, the parties, the dresses, the pictures, the hobnobbing, the traffic, the decorations, the wrapping, the lights, the carols, the music, hot chocolate, the stockings, the stocking stuffers, the family, the cooking, the baking, the eating, wonderful deliciousn everything of it all.

So let the madness ensue!