With Thanksgiving behind us, it is a good time to reflect on life and for me, my Thanksgiving experience. Many people have wonderful experiences around Thanksgiving. My experience is truly extraordinary. For almost 50 years, my in-laws have been inviting the family over to the house for Thanksgiving. The inaugural Thanksgiving probably had somewhere around 20 and maybe as many as 25 people. At the time, it included their parents, their brothers and sisters and their growing families. By itself, this is good size group.
Fast forward to today. We had 52 people covering 4 generations. But these are only numbers. The amazing thing about our Thanksgiving is that everyone comes home. No one wants to miss it. We had people from 11 different states. The biggest challenge has to be for all of our children – the 4th generation of attendees. They are in College, law school, graduate school and have real jobs. To a person, they all come home. The experience is so much grander than just Thanksgiving. We have so many rituals around food, movies, shopping and staying up way too late talking.
This year, however, we lost a cousin. One persons absence was felt by all. Thanksgiving dinner is all a blur with so many people in the house and everyone buzzing around from person to person to try and connect. Each year, I tend to remember one, or two truly meaningful conversations. The poignant conversation for me was with Aunt Marcia. It is Marcia’s son that we lost only a few short months ago. How do we make sense of this loss. As anyone knows that has lost someone close to them well before their time, it is extremely hard to get a satisfying answer as to why this happened. What I found so meaningful was her sharing that through her loss, she has gotten closer to God, connecting to her religion and a kindness she never experienced before from her husband.
What comes up for me is that if we do not make something of all the experiences we go through in life, then we are sleepwalking. If on the other hand, we really do become stronger, find peace, find meaning in even the tragic, then we have a chance to connect to whatever that greater spirit is that exists in this world. At this Thanksgiving, I give thanks to Aunt Marcia for enabling me to feel God’s presence and showing me the beauty in humanity.