In Thanksgiving

Back from the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, I am once again so grateful for my all blessings.

For those who may not know, we Canadians mark the Thanksgiving Holiday in early October as opposed to our American friends who celebrate all things Turkey at the end of November. Thus we are better equipped for the onslaught of the Christmas Festive season having had more than a month break of turkey and the like.

These hearty holidays are alive with jammed-pack cars full of homemade goodies, cheerful tables decorated with colourful squash and ornamental pumpkins, orange and brown table coverings and most likely artificial fall splendor strewn across vibrant fabric runners.

Whether it be travelling short or great distances, we eagerly anticipate such gatherings with our dear ones amidst Autumn’s burnished glory.

I come from a boisterous and busy household. You’d think I’d want to avoid it at all costs as Hollywood films would have you believe is the nature of family relationships. But quite the opposite.

It is in these very celebrations with my siblings, my family where I feel most alive.

Being together in laughter, love and crazy fun, we mark tremendous moments that burst beyond the festive Italian table.

With nieces and nephews vying for attention or amusing in behaviour, parents that love to roll their eyes at antics or jump right into the fray, I wouldn’t miss a minute of any of it.

It’s times like these that allow us to grow as individuals. It’s in returning to our beginnings that we are best able to see and share things with a new and profound appreciation.

Distance can be difficult when you long to be surrounded by those you love. But sometimes it is that distance that can help us too. It allows us to contribute and share in conversations buoyed by perspectives cultivated in varied experiences.

Sure there are disputes and yes plenty of wine and more than a hundred or two extra calories heaped on in a matter of three days, but it’s all worth it.

I’m not trying to paint my family as somehow more rosy-cartoony and cheery than any other. I just value my time with them more often these days than I did before I became a wife and mother. I live further than most of them and so the trek to and from grants me just my fill until the next visit. I willingly take the cheeriness or moodiness for a chance to be with them all.

On our way back home this time, about an hour and a half in, we faced bumper-to-bumper traffic congestion. Perhaps it’s others wanting to get a jump on the traffic mayhem early like me, I thought. But then I realized an accident on the highway up ahead had led to five lanes reduced to two and an abundance of ear-piercing sirens sounding.

We prayed no one was badly injured as we inched ever closer to the scene. In those brief fleeting moments, everything rushed through my mind: thoughts of wonderfully lively family meals, laughter and all, shared only hours earlier and now…

I was gripped with fear, wondering who was involved and how horrible an end like this would be to any festive time.

Fortunately, as we passed the emergency vehicles and smashed up bumpers, it appeared no one was seriously injured. But they could have been. I didn’t know anyone involved, yet I shared in their terror, anxiety and fear then and there.

Again it made me appreciate, with a heart so full and grateful, of how precious family and family time is the older we get.

I know not everyone can share these feelings of family togetherness. Divorce, dysfunction, illness or tragic grief affect many a family, a couple, a child. But in the midst of even the darkness corners, we must strive to find that little bit of light and comfort.

And so may we try to be thankful each and every day for waking, living and returning together safely each night. May we never take for granted such blessings.

But more than that, may we treasure family, the good, the chaotic, the crazy and fun, the silly and heartfelt, the cheesy and mundane, and be pleased each time we can sit at a table across from one another and celebrate in Thanksgiving.