It will be different this year. Again. The empty chairs, the ones not there, it all affects the spirit of the day. The memories both lift us and bring us down. Joy that they were, sadness that they are never to be again.
Sometimes the best way to get through it is to “act as if.” Act as if it’s just another day. Another day to be with each other. To lower the expectations. The demands of our time and energies. To look at the substance over the form.
I am thankful for Leroy, who made the call to cut back on the preparation and dishes served this year. I guess he could tell I didn’t have it in me. Maybe he doesn’t either. No matter.
So this year we won’t have the Norman Rockwell laden table with all of the kinfolk circled round, heads bowed, and everyone sharing a perfectly lovely sentiment about what each is most thankful for. The rosy cheeked cherubs won’t clean their plates, clear their dishes, express extreme gratitude, and then head out to play in the absolutely perfect weather. I mean, they might, but I’m certainly not expecting it. Expectation management, as my Fella would say.
I was raised with my Mama reminding us quite often, “The Lord loves a cheerful giver.” She also ended many a blessing with, “Lord, grant us a grateful heart.” Living with my Mama, almost everyday was Thanksgiving day. She wanted us to find something to be thankful for in the midst of each and every day.
Her and Paul.
We are called by Paul, in the Good Book, to give thanks in all things. On the eve of tomorrow, I look around and I give thanks for the empty chairs–that they matter so much. For all the years they weren’t empty. For all the years I could depend on the ones I love to be sitting right there, no doubt about it. I was loved. I still am, and I give thanks for that too. I give thanks for the empty chairs that are that way only this year. Only tomorrow. The ones that will be filled again soon, once folks return from where they are.
My Aunt and I agreed on this today, when she said, “Our time to celebrate is when we are all together.” It doesn’t have to be a legal holiday, y’all. Celebrate the ones you are with when you are with them. Don’t wait for the calendar to tell you it’s time.
Remember that story about using the fancy china on a regular basis instead of saving it for a “special occasion?” Because everyday is a special occasion of one sort or another. I’m thinking maybe we need to serve turkey and dressing more often. It has made me laugh how when I’ve opened up a can of cranberry sauce throughout the year, my people’s eyes light up, and they automatically think the supper is extra special. (And yes, the stores carry the sauce year round.)
Let’s do that, y’all. Let’s practice giving thanks everyday. And keep a can of cranberry sauce in the refrigerator. At all times. Ready to go. To remind folks that every day is Giving Thanks Day.
May you all fill the empty seats with precious memories and light. Today. And Everyday.
Love to all.