Dad Stuff, Part 11: A Different Kinda Thankful

Last year, I was lucky enough to start hosting the annual Thanksgiving gathering at my house. For the first 30-35 years of my life, it was always at my Aunt Denise’s house and for the past 10-15 years, turkey-day was at my Dad’s house. I hoped that when my Dad decided to retire from hosting that I would be able to host.

Some might ask, “really? You actually wanted your siblings, parents, in-laws, and nieces and nephews at your house and to do all that planning and cleaning and cooking?”

Yes. And I loved it. I gave this toast. It was a reflection on all the years we’d spent together as a family on Thanksgiving and how I hoped 2019 would mark the beginning of many, many more and for as long as Kathy and I were able to host, that everyone would know Don’s house is where we’d celebrate Thanksgiving.

The point of my 2019 toast (if you didn’t click on the link and read it) was that I wish, and I will always wish, that I could have one more perfect Thanksgiving will all the people I love around me doing all the things they always do, telling the jokes they always tell, the stories they always tell, bringing the side dishes and appetizers they always bring, and living up to the picture-perfect postcard I see when I close my eyes and think back. But “one more”, as I reflected, is never promised to us. How ironic that only one year later I’m already not getting the “one more” I hoped for.

Yet, I’m thankful as I’ve ever been. I’m thankful I didn’t lose anyone I love this year. Many have. I could be bitter and angry about the pandemic and elected officials imposing rules (or no rules)  and how terrible it’s made my life. If you look, you’ll find many reasons NOT to be thankful and to be angry. I don’t pretend some people don’t have very good reasons for feeling anxious, sad, trapped, powerless, and hopeless because they lost a job, lost income, lost life experiences they had planned for 2020, or lost someone they love. If you’re one of these people, I will pray for you and I will take your call if you call me. My heart aches for you.

If you’re lucky like me, all you’ve lost this year is some money, some sanity, and some of those experiences that make life worth living. It’s temporary. I know it. We all know it. We can’t make sense of it. Some have tried to make sense of it. But it’s not something that can be explained. Life is full of those unexplainable things …like a mother, a grandparent, an uncle, or a best friend dying way, way, way before we were ready to see them go.

Cancer. Job loss. Heart attacks. Car accidents. And now we can add a pandemic and the COVID virus to that list (and hopefully by next year at Thanksgiving we can take COVID off the list). The unexplainable. The unplanned-for.

Today will be different around my house, yet exactly the same as almost every day of the last 10 months …me, my wife, my son, and my two daughters (and my dog). Five of us (six if you count that damn dog). I’m thankful for them. I like them and I think they still like me despite way, way too much time together. I wish my brother and his family (4), my sister and her family (4), my Aunt, my Dad and Grandma Sally, and Darrin and Buddy could also be at my house (and maybe some other in-laws of in-laws and family in from out of town), but we’re being safe and cautious and I’m thankful I have them all still to miss. I’m thankful that, if I wanted, I could Zoom or call them. And I’m actually quite thankful that when I threw the idea of still all making our same appetizers, entrees, side dishes, and desserts, that everyone said “yes” and we did a road rally the day before Thanksgiving to trade all the good eats.

I’m thankful. I’m grateful. I’m blessed. This too shall pass.

This year, my “one more” will be me reminding myself one more time that I have many blessings in my life and if we do these little things like stay away from each other and wear masks, maybe one more person will be spared from getting sick, being hospitalized, or worse . . . and there’s no reason that when this is all in the past, that I can’t start to find at least one more reason to see and talk to the people I love and do it more often than the holidays, only.

Oh …and one more thing … HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

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