This Thanksgiving was so much different from last year's. In 2011, my son was living in a sober living house in Palm Springs and was greatly missed at our dinner table. This year, though, was a different story.
My son is now about 4.5 months clean, which is the most clean time he's had since he was 15 (he's almost 23 now). There are not enough words for me to express how proud I am of him. And how thankful I am that he seems to have found the right path.
On the day before Thanksgiving, my son was over visiting--his little brother is home from school this week on break--and invited my wife and me to an early-bird "Gratitude Meeting" Thanksgiving morning. We gladly accepted, as did my Mom, who was also invited.
So on Thanksgiving Day, my wife and I got up at the crack of dawn; but not to start the big day's meal preparation. Instead we drove to a church just a few blocks from our house and joined a couple hundred other people for a beautiful 7:00am Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. There were members of AA there along with many family members and friends who came to show support and gratitude. It was such an incredible turnout.
After the standard AA meeting opening remarks and readings, a microphone was passed around the room and everyone in the room spoke briefly about what they were grateful for. It really was quite moving. There was so much love and hope and courage...and, yes, gratitude in that room.
When the meeting was over, we dropped our son off at his sober living house and came home to get the Turkey Day meal started. I cooked my butt off! But when 5:30 rolled around and my family started arriving, things were all ready to go.
My mom, brother, and youngest sister joined us for dinner. Unfortunately, my Dad wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it over. But we sent a nice care package of food home for him. My oldest sister, who lives in New York, couldn't make it either. (I'm hoping we can figure out a way to all be together at Christmas time.)
We had a great meal and a great time just sitting around and talking. I have to say it was one of the most relaxing, stress-free Thanksgivings I can remember. Having both of my boys in a good place is most definitely the biggest reason for that. There was a sense of normalcy to the day and evening. I have to admit, I had kind of forgotten what that was like.
The highlight of the whole holiday, though, was reading my son's status update on Facebook that evening:
"So grateful for the support of my family and friends and the opportunities I am no longer denying myself today. Happy Thanksgiving."
I think those words--which brought tears to my eyes when I read them--show what a long way my son has come.
It was indeed a happy Thanksgiving. I hope it was for all of you as well.
"Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back." --Anne Lamott (from her book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers)