November 23rd, 2015
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Grateful Hearts

For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving in our family is about reaching out and sharing.

During our childhood, my parents always reminded the six of us that we could invite anyone that we knew who might not have a place to go and might possibly be spending Thanksgiving alone.

And they meant it.

The Cranston Thanksgiving table always had room for more people.  For friends who couldn’t make it home to their families, for people who had no where else to go and for elderly relatives who had paid their dues in preparing Thanksgivings past and now needed assistance.

The names and faces might change from year to year but the spirit of giving and inclusion remained the core of our family’s Thanksgiving celebration.

As my siblings and I have grown and started our own families, this idea is still practiced.  It is an unspoken tenet in our family that no one should spend Thanksgiving alone.

I checked in with a good friend and mom I have known for years who sadly was recently widowed.  She reassured me that she and her children will be spending Thanksgiving with a member of her family.  At the same time, I left the invitation open in case her plans change.  As a widow and single mother myself, I know that holidays are tricky in general, but even more so for those who are grieving.  I know that “grief attacks” can be spontaneous and emotionally overwhelming, especially when children are involved.  Perhaps you know someone navigating a difficult time.  A call or email of support could make a difference in how they spend their day.

For me, getting ready for a holiday event always brings back memories of holidays past and the people who made the day special.  I always allow myself to go through my mental slide show of Thanksgivings from the past, whether as a child or an adult.  I think it’s healthy to go backwards a bit and reminisce but I also have to remind myself that those treasured memories are just that and that I need to open myself to this year’s Thanksgiving and shift my focus to making it just as special as any I had before.

Last year, Thanksgiving in our family was a completely different scenario.  A large part of my family traveled to Ireland and they found a local pub which happened to be serving an American Thanksgiving dinner.  They said it was delicious and fun but being abroad brought a totally different feel to the day.  I did not travel to Ireland and for the first time, my adult son and I spent Thanksgiving with the family of one of my sisters who also stayed in the United States.  Her children and in-laws gathered for the day and we made different (my sister had already set up the Christmas tree in their living room) but warm memories of a day spent at their lovely house.

This year, it is a pleasant surprise for me to host Thanksgiving dinner at my house.  It has been at least two decades since Thanksgiving was at my house but I am happy that the day has come together and I will be gathering my parents and some of my siblings and their children under my roof to partake of The Big Bird.  We will be thinking, and including in our prayers of thanks, the other members of my family, especially my son, who will be spending their Thanksgiving with extended family who are located up and down different parts of the East Coast.

Hopefully, the turkey will turn out tasty and moist while I focus on making the homemade mashed potatoes (the best side dish!) and the fresh cranberry relish.  I’m sure the sounds of a requisite football game will be airing in the background while mixing with my family’s lively conversations.

Holidays can often feel like emotional minefields but in the end sharing time with those that I love is a lasting gift and I know that I am blessed with an abundance of family and friends.

I hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful and full of lots of laughter, love and of course, great food!!

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