Thanksgiving, in my opinion, gets the short end of the stick. Christmas kicks it in the be-hind before anyone has even carved a turkey or said “thanks.”
With that knowledge and sympathy for Turkey Tom’s and Jake’s around the States, I tried harder this past November 24 to dwell on what makes me thankful. On the faces and places I hold dear. And I felt like I had to work extra hard this year. Especially due to my mom’s current cancer and chemo situation – an unfortunate leg of our family’s journey that we must journey together for reasons unknown to us now. Something we’ll look back on some Thanksgiving – years from now – and give Thanks for the support and healing.
But this year…I may not have audibly announced to the world around me my thanks for specific people or events in my life. I may not have written words of thanks on WordPress for people to StumbleUpon or Twitter. I may not have told specific people that I truly am thankful for who they are and how they love. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my heart, always on the brink of bubbling over, I am thankful. For all of the above.
Thanksgiving was spent Up North – a true oasis from the city/suburban life I lead. Upon arriving at our Up North destination, after hugs and hello’s, I headed into the woods with my family – sister, dad, Uncle, cousins, and cousin’s kids – to shoot some guns. All of us “girls” gave it a go. All of the guys gave us tips and pointers. And according to Cousin B, my facial expressions after shooting the 22 were quite entertaining. Fresh air and fire arms – it was a great start to our day of Thanks.
Back at the house, I ran around with my cousin’s kids – playing ping pong, a wild game of knee hockey, and jumping on mini dirt bikes and buzzing around the front yard. I was re-introduced to young kids – kids too young to remember our first meeting. Cousin B and his wife told their young son, “This is Cousin Meg!” and it was probably at that point (or when my cousin’s middle school daughter rounded up my age and launched me into the next decade of my life – the fact that she’s in middle school already makes me feel old) when I realized how much life has changed.
Looking into the faces of my cousin’s kids was like looking in a mirror. If I close my eyes for a second – I am five years old, eight years old, ten years old, fourteen years old – playing hide-and-go-seek, plating up food at Thanksgiving, wrestling cousins three times my size, scheming on ways to win board games, and chatting without a care to cousins who cared. Many November 24ths have come and gone in my lifetime. But with every November – every December – I see the faces of my cousins, now parents, smiling and laughing along with me all those years ago. Through the years. They’ve been there for me. They’re still here for me. Taking time to talk, listen, and laugh.
That’s why I went out of my way to hang with their kids this Thanksgiving. Forget the fact that their kids are all adorable with witty ways to boot. Forget the fact that my education and career center around kids and their learning and development. Sure, that probably is why I don’t run and hide when I see kids, but it is not the one and only reason why I love being with my cousin’s kids. It all boils down to thanks. Thanking my family – my grandparents for raising great kids – my mom who loves unconditionally and my dad who stands by her side “in sickness and in health.” My aunts and uncles for raising great kids – cousins who taught me more than they’ll ever know. And my cousins for raising great kids. Thanking my family for being there for me all those years and tears. Thanking my cousins for being my playmates and teachers.
I can only hope and pray that by being there for my little cousins (first cousin once removed, right?) right now, this instant, that I can reflect a piece of the gratitude I feel toward my cousins. Afterall, that’s what Thanksgiving is about. Reflecting the thanks we feel for the helping hands and hearts of people we love and cherish.