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Be the River This Thanksgiving

Sunday night my son called. It was the night before he was flying down for Thanksgiving, and I was so excited to have my nest a little fuller through the holiday. As you may have read from my last post, my goal this year is to try to ‘be the river’ and go with the flow rather than being stuck in the past, clinging to boulders or trying to control the river.

Yes, this year would be different – much smaller – but I am going to embrace it and look at it as an opportunity to shake things up. After hemming and hawing about what exactly that would look like, I pulled the trigger and ordered everything pre-cooked from Whole Foods. The only thing I planned to make were the mashed potatoes and the stuffing as we needed gluten free options.

It was amazing how good it felt to check that box. To move forward with a decision – no matter how small – so I could get on with adopting my new and improved attitude. I bought games for us to play, we planned hikes and my husband even decided to bake a pie for the first time. Ever. We scheduled a zoom call for Thanksgiving day with my family who would not be joining us, and my sister was busy curating a small gift basket to deliver to our dad and his wife with little reminders of previous year’s celebrations so that we could share a laugh and some cheerful memories.

This was going to be good!

And this brings me back to Sunday night. Over the previous two days, all we saw were crowded airports and huge numbers of unmasked travelers who, like my son, were taking a calculated risk and ignoring all CDC Guidelines to hop on a plane so they could have some semblance of normalcy in this anything -but- normal year.

While I was somewhat nervous, I told myself with great authority that I was willing to take a risk to have my kids home. They were ‘COVID Worthy’ and if we all laid low, and he took the necessary precautions, we would all be fine.

Enter the boulder.

When the phone rang, I assumed he was giving me his flight information so that I knew what time to pick him up. But instead he asked the question ‘do you think it’s worth the risk of me coming down?’ He explained that he had been seeing the same images that we were, and he was worried about putting us at risk (my husband is nearing 65 and has a non threatening, yet still there, heart issue) and then traveling back up to Seattle to put his 5 roommates at risk.

As I put him on speaker with the rest of the family, we all decided that it was probably for the best.

After we hung up, I clung to that boulder of self pity as I assumed the ‘victim’ position. ‘F*&% COVID for taking away the one thing I was looking forward to!’.

I was so sad.

I knew I had to pick myself back up, but I needed a minute to wallow and feel sorry for myself. After a good hour of licking my wounds, I shook myself off and started focusing on all the things I was grateful for. After all isn’t that what this holiday is all about?

I am grateful for the fact that unlike so many families, my entire family is healthy and happy. Every single one of them.

I am grateful for my son being the adult to state the obvious and bring us all back to Earth. I am proud of him for doing the right thing.

I am grateful for having this time with my husband and daughter – no matter what it looks like.

I am grateful for having a roof over my head and the ability to simply order a pre-cooked meal from an expensive market because I don’t feel like working too hard.

Even though this year won’t look like all the rest, I am going to remind myself to practice gratitude and go with the flow even when the pull of the boulder is so strong, beckoning me to just come hang out for a while.

I hope that wherever you are, and whatever your holiday looks like this year, you and your family are healthy and happy and safe. And boulder free.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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