Despite the world still spinning from Covid-19 and the deep divisions that exist in our country, I’m feeling grateful as the holidays approach.
From grief to gratitude
I noticed some sadness yesterday. It seems to resurface each November, like it did 13 years ago when my late husband M’s health was rapidly declining and I knew the end was near. M died in December 2007. “It’s the hole in your heart that never fully closes for a loved one,” said the grief counselor Sheila during the days and weeks after I lost my spouse. It still rings true today.
I allow the sadness to stay for awhile, the tears to shed. Then I slowly let all the good memories reemerge — M’s holiday meals, our family vacations, the two incredible children we created, our 25 years together — and my heart fills with gratitude.
Thanksgiving will be different this year
Thanksgiving was my late husband M’s special day to show off his culinary talents. One year the turkey was spatchcocked — like Chef Samin Nosrat’s Buttermilk-Brined Roast Turkey recipe in Times Cooking last week — M was ahead of the trends. Another time he heated up the grill and smoked a turkey. “Let’s order a turducken from Louisiana,” he declared when turduckens were popular with foodies. “It’s a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey.” There was much anticipation when the family sat down for dinner.
Thanksgiving feasts in past years also included a favorite side dish from family members. My late sister-in-law I was known for her creamy mashed potatoes (I passed away in July 2019) and my late sister-in-law F always brought super-rich stuffing made with a pound of butter and sausage (F passed away in July 2020). I miss them both.
Thanksgiving will be different next week. We’ll be a much smaller group – just six of us. I’ve decided to order a Tandoori turkey with chutneys from the local Indian restaurant. It’s an opportunity to support the community and celebrate in a unique way. There will be the traditional homemade appetizers made by my kids and my homemade blueberry pear pie as bookends.
I’ll miss the juggling of chairs and setting up for the Thanksgiving buffet. But I’m grateful that my sister N, my daughter A, my son D and his girlfriend S, and my boyfriend L will be here to partake around the table with me. Ooh, ooh, ooh, must not forget that S’s mini golden doodle puppywill be visiting as well!
I’m optimistic that in 2021 our Thanksgiving Day will be bustling again with the larger extended family in attendance.
Optimism and hope
Speaking of optimism and gratitude, I was reading about Michael J Fox’s new memoir, “No Time Like The Future,” and thought he had positive words to impart. Despite his disabilities with Parkinson’s disease, he remains an optimist.
In his The New York Times interview Michael said “Optimism is informed hope.“You’ve been given something, you’ve accepted it and understood it, and then you have to pass it on.”
He does this through his foundation which in the past 20 years has funded more than $1 billion in Parkinson’s research. Michael was recently selected as a Next Avenue 2020 Influencer in Aging for his efforts to change our understanding of what it means to grow older.
In his epilogue, he remembers the words of his late father-in-law, Stephen Pollan, who passed away two years ago, and was known for his optimistic quotes like “Just wait, kiddo. It gets better.” Or, as Michael says, “With gratitude, optimism becomes sustainable.”
A grateful state of mind
If you’re not in a grateful state of mind, these two resources may help.
The Gratefulness.org offers a sanctuary to “inspire and guide a commitment to grateful living.” The Gratefulness community is linked to Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, from Vienna, Austria, a prominent author and lecturer on gratefulness.
The site offers mindful tools to nourish grateful living such as: Word for the Day with inspiration to contemplate, Daily Questions to reflect upon, and ideas for gratitude journaling and lighting a candle. The organization believes “Living gratefully helps us awaken to the opportunities that are always available – even in the most challenging times – to learn, grow, and extend ourselves with compassion to ourselves, others, and the world.”
I also like the blog “Wake Up With Gratitude,” from Julie Boyer, who authored a book by the same name. Julie had a life-threatening illness years ago. She says, “I spent a week in a medically induced coma on a ventilator. Waking up from the coma was a gift, and that’s why I choose to wake up with gratitude every day.” I love, love, love, Julie’s “Recipe for Simple Gratitude” poem!
Giveaway for “My Pocket GRATITUDE”
As you get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I thought I’d do a giveaway for a book that was sent my way a few months ago. It’s “My Pocket GRATITUDE,” filled with 150 gratitude-infused activities to help cultivate positivity throughout your life.
Enter for a chance to win a copy through the Rafflecopter below or leave a comment. Let me know what you are grateful for during this holiday season or challenging year.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!