When someone says “get stuffed”, it’s not always a bad thing

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There’s a lot to be said for the joy the holidays bring – or any celebration, for that matter.  Whether it be a birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas or a reunion – the ease of the conversation, the steady flow of wine, the melodic sound of laughter and the joy of being with a close-knit group of people is unequalled.  There is an undefined comfort level that allows us to become absorbed in the festivities that surround us. The fact that we can gorge ourselves and have an excuse to eat everything in sight with only a few fleeting moments of guilt is sublime.

turkey

The molecules change in the room when family and friends get together for a holiday celebration.  There is something intrinsically sacred about holidays and the memories that are created within those moments. Time has a way of strategically obliterating those precious seconds as it marches on at a frantic pace, but our memories have a way of stopping that clock, if only for a few moments.

Holidays are a portal.  They can freeze time and create a vortex that allows us to travel back and relive certain periods in our lives.  The memories wrap themselves around us like a blanket and soothe us with the warmth of the times that engaged us and truly breathed life into our lives.

Although many holidays have passed and are collecting dust in the books of my hallowed history, watching my brother “float” his dinner in gravy brings back a rush of nostalgia, and that, to me, is what the holidays are truly about.  Personal moments that, to any other person would mean nothing but, to me, define my holiday experience.

Our Canadian Thanksgiving begins today and this evening I will spend time with family and friends enjoying a concert by Victoria Banks.  She is currently living in Nashville but is home for Thanksgiving weekend with her family.  The one glaring item that will be missing this Thanksgiving is my mom.  This weekend will be another “first” after her passing in March.  I know she will be with us in spirit tonight and especially during the making of my brother’s always spectacular turkey dinner.  Undoubtedly, she will be looking over his shoulder, whispering secrets into his ear, so he can make her stuffing just the way she used to.

Embrace your family, enjoy the moments and get stuffed with those memories.

What I learned about giving thanks

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This weekend is Thanksgiving for me and my fellow Canadians.  I have enjoyed many family celebrations and each year that we are able to get together for a family gathering, we are all thankful for those moments and for the people in our lives.  This year I was given a truly different perspective on what it means to be genuinely thankful.

Each October the family I work for invites their extended family to the lodge for Thanksgiving.  And each year, one of the older couples ventures North for the holiday with their foster children.  This year there are five of them.  Over the last fifteen years, a myriad of young faces have come and gone through the lodge but the expression on each of those faces, I’m sure, is the same.  It is the look of hope.  The joy and sense of togetherness they feel, on this weekend in particular, hopefully renews their faith in family.

There have been so many stories told of what these poor children have endured throughout their young lives.  These foster children are survivors of terrible atrocities that no human, much less a child, should ever have to experience.  With the love of their foster parents, these children are given a chance to, not only succeed but, be part of a family tradition that they may never have experienced in their troubled past.

Selfishly throughout my life I have silently thanked God for the bounty we are about to receive, having never given any thought to what I really should be thankful for but my perspective has been altered.  This Thanksgiving I am thankful for people like Marilyn and Fred – people who open their homes and their hearts to give a child a second chance for a life full of love and family.

This will be one of my most memorable Thanksgiving weekends and I look forward to seeing that same look of hope on some new faces next year.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Giving thanks

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My family is a collection of characters.  They are as unique as snowflakes, no one member is remotely the same.  They are all intelligent and articulate, but thoroughly amusing and fun to be around.  There is never a dull moment at the cottage when the relatives are in town!

With our hectic lifestyles and spanned location of homesteads, we don’t get to see each other as often as we used to when I was a kid.  That just makes holidays and get-togethers that much more special.  Since it is Thanksgiving weekend, we gathered once again to celebrate the holiday and enjoy each others company.  The stress of life and all of the troubles that we face during the day seem to melt away when the family reunites and nothing else matters except the people who embrace you when you walk over the threshold of the door to the family cottage.  The outside world ceases to exist and laughter and love wrap themselves around our shoulders like a warm security blanket.

The food is abundant, the conversation is easy and the feeling of love is overwhelming.  There is nothing more important than family.  We can be thankful for all of our possessions, our jobs, our wealth, but all of those things are replaceable.  Family is not.

Thanksgiving is a time to truly reflect on what is most important in our lives.   I am certainly thankful for my health, having a job that I love, co-workers that I admire and respect and possessions and a home that I truly appreciate.  But I am most thankful for the branches on my family tree that continue to envelop me and wrap themselves around me when I need them the most.

With each passing year, the trunk of our family tree grows stronger and roots itself more firmly in the soil of our existence.  That tree has weathered many storms but still manages to endure the bad times as well as flourish in the good times.  Its bark remains tough, but the core of our family tree still remains tender and nurturing.

As seasons come and go, our tree continues to thrive.   I am thankful for my ancestors who planted the seed, for my family that has passed that still hold roots in my tree, and for the family that continues to create branches on that ever-growing tree.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope you all take a moment to give thanks for what is truly important in your lives.