Updated: Nov 12
If this were a ‘normal’ year, I would typically be starting to make my lists for all the supplies I need for Thanksgiving. After referencing the prior year’s detailed notes compiled following each meal as to what worked and what didn’t, I would be crafting my extensive grocery lists. Last minute carpet and window cleaning would be scheduled and any other maintenance issues attended to.
Thanksgiving has always been a fun time of year for me. Big on tradition, I love gathering with family and all that entails to celebrate and practice gratitude. For many years, my family and I would make the trek up to Carmel where my mom, dad, sister and her family lived. After my mom passed 7 years ago, we decided to change it up.
Now, my dad, my sister and her family come down for 5 days of eating, drinking and lots of football. The celebration commences the Tuesday before as my sister and her family arrive, and ends the Sunday following. In between, with the arrival of my dad and his new wife, are many meals including pizza night, sandwich bar for lunch on Thanksgiving day (I always forget about lunch!), Thanksgiving dinner followed by a Mexican takeout for lunch the next day.
It is as much fun – if not more – than it is work, mostly due to the comradery in the kitchen and the entertainment that comes with spending endless hours with family
But not this year.
Like most people, our plans have changed due to the unexpected – and uninvited - holiday guest who has overstayed its welcome. COVID.
My sister, her family and my dad and his wife will not be joining us this year. The risk is far too great, and while I’ll miss all of them, I know that I couldn’t live with myself if something were to happen. Instead it will be just the 4 of us – myself, my husband and our two kids.
Lately, I’ve caught myself feeling a little sad reminiscing about the raucous late night dance parties, the early morning trip to Whole Foods Thanksgiving morning and the occasional inappropriate outburst coming from the kitchen as someone drops a jar of pickles on the floor, sending shards of glass shooting in every direction.
I’ll miss that.
Maybe in some way this is preparing me for the years ahead as our kids start having families of their own, splitting their time between us and their in-laws just as I did when I met my husband. Life is really a series of chapters with one fading into the next in a hopefully seamless transition, the characters shifting as they embark on their own journeys.
If there is one thing that 2020 has somewhat painfully illustrated, it’s what I’ve known all along - the power of choice.
"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like." -- Lao Tzu
So as this quote beautifully articulates, I can choose to be the river, flowing effortlessly around the rocks that come up in my path, or I can choose to try to control the river, fighting change and obstacles at every turn. After spending plenty of time clinging to rocks and branches in an attempt to fight it, I can tell you that it is exhausting and rarely turns out the way I hoped!
I can fight it, being stuck in the past, tethered to tradition or I can accept the challenge of creating a new tradition if even for just this year. The beauty is that this now opens us up to an entirely new way of doing things.
Do we want turkey with all the trimmings? Or do we want to switch it up? Should we order a prepared meal? Or assign each family member a dish of their choosing that they are responsible for preparing? Do we try to sneak out of town for a couple of days? Or hunker down watching football and playing board games?
I have a choice and my choice is to go with the flow, bobbing and weaving as best I can rather than being weighed down like that rock. I choose to focus on the abundance in my life rather than by the scarcity of ‘what’s missing’. I choose to focus on the gratitude I feel for having a roof over my head, my family's health and all of us being together for the holidays.
How about you? What do you choose?
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