This was a really tough Thanksgiving season for me.  You all understand that, I know.  So much has happened this past year, and like one former student said, “You’ve had a bummer of a year.” Yes, it has definitely been a bummer, and frankly, to think that I might embark on 2018 very soon is totally pleasant.  However, I wondered if I would even make it through Thanksgiving Day intact…without being a blubbering mess and totally unpleasant for anyone else to be around.  Tada!  The day was delightful, and I spent the entire day being grateful for all sorts of friends, family, and loved ones.

The day began with numerous friends and writers sending me messages, wishing me a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, sharing good news of their families, and letting me know that amidst their joy, thoughts were also with me.  How sweet!  I was not alone in my experience of the holiday as a new “single again.”  I am sure you, too, have had enough of the “all about me” mentality. When we go near “it,” we quickly retreat into the “Do I really need that in my life?” mode.

It was great to be with friends who have become family.  Even though I was not connected through DNA in any way, they all made me feel like family, and I was so grateful.  It was wonderful to reconnect with the joy of youth, and behold the faces of young persons who live in hope of a tomorrow that is theirs…a new, exciting tomorrow that is both scary and terribly wonderful to consider.  It is great to be a tiny part of encouraging those wonderful faces of hope to “reach for the stars”…to know that the sky is the limit for their achievement.   With all the advances today in medicine and technology, they are likely to be able to double their possibilities and continue working a lot longer than the current generation.

I was grateful to be able to contribute to Thanksgiving Day in some way.  As you know, the “guest” role takes on a different perspective and responsibility.  For the first time in years and years, I was not in the active role of planner, producer, negotiator, director, and clean-up specialist.  However, I found that I was still useful in many ways…everyone needs a pecan pie on the dessert table (no comment!), a person to behold the beauty of the decor (and comment), and a person who assists in the clean-up.  Wow…that last one was really appreciated.

And so…one of those “firsts” is complete.  The sun came up the next morning, I made it through without too many misty-eyed moments, and it was just totally delightful to be among friends who have become family.  So…I am on to “Christmas” in the new life.  My husband and I always made a big deal of Christmas, and he had the biggest smile of anyone.  My joy was in seeing his joy as he experienced seeing everyone else happy with the gifts he/we had chosen to give them.  There is no greater joy than seeing the smiles on faces receiving with delight something we thought they might enjoy.  The creativity in planning the gift to be given was totally fun for Bill and me.  That was our Christmas.

Things have changed in my life, and frankly, the thought of Christmas this year really isn’t too exciting at the moment.  Some would question my integrity in realizing the “reason for the season,” saying that aspect should be the motivation to press onward.  That’s okay.  I get that judgment on me, but one thing I get more than ever is that I understand those in my life who have at some point felt the way I feel now.  I understand now why they were not in attendance in some Christmas festivities, and frankly, I might not be too involved myself this year.  We’ll see.  I do not have to decide that at this time, and I will “take care of myself,” as many of you have suggested I do.  It just makes sense to me.  I am not good at assuming the “poor thing” role.

No matter what happens this holiday season, the gratitude list somehow just gets longer and longer.  Okay…so there are friends, family, wonderful writers, music, meaningful work, a wonderful church, lovely angels of support who helped me get settled in a new place, a loving husband who took care of me in our marriage, wonderful professional personnel who have walked with me during dark days, giving me sage advice, etc.  The list goes on and on, and I am definitely looking forward to more days of grateful naming of life’s gifts to me.  Therefore, I am going to spend the next several weeks creating a “Gratitude List.”  It seems to be a good way to honor past joys of the season and get me ready for a wonderful 2018!  Happy New Year…not quite!!