Sometimes, I think, we regularly do things that become burdens to us. We choose to bear those crosses, not knowing the outcomes of such bearings. And sometimes the burdens themselves cloud the very real and wonderful differences our actions regularly make. And most times, from out of the blue, someone will bring to light those differences.
Maybe one day a good therapist will draw from me my recollections of childhood Thanksgivings. But until then, my memories of the holiday begin in my young adult life. That’s the time in my life when our family Thanksgivings became the burdens of my sister. She would disagree that her Thanksgivings were burdens. I think. But during her annual process of cheesing up some squash, gibleting up some gravy, or onioning up some dressing, asking the woman for a toothpick clearly moves the day’s event for her from a Rockwell painting to burden status.
And that’s okay. Sometimes our burdens generate jokes and laughter. After all, who needs a toothpick on Thanksgiving BEFORE the meal is eaten?
My son, his mom and I made the Thanksgiving trip together from Chapel Hill, North Carolina to my family’s home in Jacksonville, Florida only one time. That was when our son was ten months old. Every Thanksgiving Day after that one, my son’s mom worked. It was a trade off for her. She worked Thanksgivings. She was off Christmases. It made perfect sense.
That holiday arrangement also set up a couple of treasured traditions. Christmas days became our small family’s turkey meal day for the three of us and for members of her family. Thanksgivings became, for just my son and me, journeys to Jacksonville and into my sister’s world of squash, gravy, dressing and the aromas of cinnamon and fresh coffee.
From the time he was three or four years old until the time he began fathering three and four year olds himself, my son and I never missed a Jacksonville Thanksgiving with my sister and family. For the past few years, I have made the journey alone. I was in Jacksonville for Mama’s final Thanksgiving. Last year, I was with my sister for her first Thanksgiving without Mama. But I have been without my son for the past three.
I will miss my sister and brother-in-law and his wonderful family this year. But this Thursday, I am reuniting with the most important holiday tradition I have ever known – being with my son at Thanksgiving.
It is the turn of he and his beautiful and understanding wife to carry a Thanksgiving burden this year. It will be tough for them. They have four young children. She has ten or so other family members. My son will have his dad there.
But I trust that one day the differences that young family will make this Thanksgiving and at Thanksgivings for years to come will be brought to light as starkly as were my sister’s differences recently.
A couple of Saturdays ago, there was a public notice that came from out of the blue on Facebook. It was something my son had posted. It was his way of bringing to light what needed to be illuminated.
“Happy Thanksgiving! My favorite holiday because of aunt Marilyn Moon!”
Clearly you have made a difference, Marilyn.