As I lie in bed writing this blog post, Thanksgiving 2013 is still four days away. But that doesn't mean I haven't thought about it a lot already. After all, my wife and I attended an amazing Thanksgiving Feast at our younger son's school this past Thursday. And we bought our way-too-big turkey at Trader Joe's yesterday. Today we'll make our final shopping list so we can start picking up the rest of the things we'll need to cook our own Thanksgiving feast on Thursday.
We will definitely be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday in our house. Big time. You can count on that. And this is the second year in a row that the day will be just a little bit more meaningful for us. You can count on that, too. Because this will be the second consecutive Thanksgiving that our son will be clean and sober.
Unless you have had an addict child, there's no way you can feel what my wife and I feel these days. After years of living a nightmare almost every single day, and just going through the motions at holiday time, we are finally able to appreciate and give thanks. Not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.
Yes, Thanksgiving is still the fourth Thursday of November, just like it's always been (well, at least since Congress made it law in 1941). And you should get together with your families this week and celebrate the big day. But you should also remember to be grateful the other 364 days of the year, too. Despite what the calendar may say, every day should be Thanksgiving. Just because you're not eating turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie doesn't mean you can't give thanks for all the wonderful things in your life, no matter how small.
"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) [Note: I know I have posted this quote before, but it is so meaningful to me I had to post it again.]
P.S. This will be my first Thanksgiving without my dad, who passed away in February. It will definitely be different. Despite the many years of pain he and his alcoholism caused me, I did make peace with him shortly before he passed, and I truly miss him now. A couple of weeks ago, I was outside raking leaves in the backyard, turned my head, and could've sworn I saw my dad standing there. (The mind works in mysterious ways.) Yesterday I spent the afternoon putting his Army patches and medals on display in a shadow box, which I will give to my mom today. I also put the Bible that was issued to my dad by the Army in October of 1944 in a special place. I am truly thankful that we reconciled before he left us.