It's nearly Thanksgiving again, a time of the year I have written about in the past, mainly for those who will be facing the holiday without their partner for the first time. (See: Alone at the Holdays: Ten Tips to Make Your Holiday a Good One)
This year I write to include everyone. Perhaps that in itself signals that I have moved on in my thinking. That is, I no longer think of myself primarily as a woman alone, or a widow or ‘single.' Although I am still very much aware that I am living my life without the man with whom I thought I'd be seeing it through, I have also moved closer to feeling more a part of this wide world through other lives that touch mine, whether they be family, friends, acquaintances, psychologists, doctors and others who care for my body and spirit, people on the street I help with a few dollars or a sandwich, musicians who play and touch my heart, writers whose words affect me deeply, the bountiful feast that Nature offers me every day and the gift of my own creativity. All these things fill me with the simple gratitude of being alive and a part of something much larger than myself.
Remember our first history lesson about the origin of Thanksgiving? We learned that the Pilgrims gave thanks for their first harvest of corn and barley, the planting of which was taught to them by a Native American named Squanto. We learned what else they most likely ate and what they didn't (pumpkin pie.) The food is not important. But the idea that they took time to give thanks for the blessing of their harvest, their new friends, the Native Americans, and what came from that friendship...their ability to sustain themselves.
At our own Thanksgiving table, from the time our children were old enough to understand what being thankful means, my husband and I asked everyone to tell us what they were most thankful for. It produced groans from the children, even when they weren't children anymore. Because they were not used to the idea of expressing aloud some one ‘thing' that meant more to them than any other. And they were 'things' in the beginning... as: "I'm thankful for my toy robot;" "I'm thankful for my new Barbie." And, later: "I'm glad I didn't blow up the Chemistry lab." And, my favorite: "I'm thankful you didn't see what I brought home last night." When my children became parents, and our table was extended, history, including the groans, repeated itself in our grandchildren. Today, they are adults. They have loved and lost loved ones, and I never tire of hearing their heartfelt feelings of gratitude for the importance of the close relationship we all share.