Reflections on Occupy Thanksgiving, Joy Tinged with Sadness

Starting to load up the table

Insomnia struck at 3:30 am after a fitful sleep before that.

Simply a result of overindulgence?

It would have been convenient if I was one of the crazy thrifty multitudes who choose to line up outside stores for the early openings and buying frenzy known as Black Friday, but I’m not.

Instead it was a reflection of something more. When denied sleep I buried myself in the beauty of tragic love past, reading Jane Eyre for the first time in many years and relishing every dramatic throb of love torn asunder. Finally, I thought I could go back to sleep only to find myself crying convulsively, waking Nathan with wracking sobs.

Why would a day filled with laughter, smiles and thanks bring on this insuppressible sadness?

Because amidst the celebration I saw my mother’s eyes tear up when Sarah interviewed her and asked two important questions:

  1. “What are you thankful for?” Answer: “That all my loved one’s are here together.”
  2. “If you could have one wish, what would it be?” Answer: “That Papa would get better.”

You see, in the cacophony of voices, telling jokes, sharing stories, there was one gaping hole of silence sitting to my left. My Dad, who used to be the life of the party, now caught in the trap of Alzheimer’s would only interject in discomfort or annoyance if we pushed him too hard to eat.

Note my tongue sticking out, a habit I got from my Dad

The silence is heartbreaking.

The day, overall was joyous. Sarah’s excitement and enthusiasm for interviewing everybody was contagious. The food delicious. The laughter and conversation scintillating.

It’s been a long time since my family sat down together for a meal, followed by playing games together.

Love this image with Mom joining in the fun.

All in all a wonderful day that I will always be thankful for, and that I believe Sarah will hold in her memory.

Sarah got the big end of the wishbone. I hope all her wishes come true.

Still, for me, a joyous day tinged with a little sadness.

Most photo's taken by Steve, also known as Taochild

Occupy Thanksgiving: The Five Senses of Thanks

Warning, today’s post is a somewhat rambling journey into nostalgia brought on by the five senses.

The delicious aroma of my Mom’s recipe for stuffing permeated the house last night, making me want to dive into its comforting flavor-filled memory. I admit that I conducted a taste test to be sure it was perfect, which it was.

 

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite non-religious holiday. I used to love rushing down to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade back when the parade itself seemed longer than the commercials (now, sadly, the opposite is true). I am determined to make it to New York one of these years to see the parade live and without commercial interruptions.

For some strange reason (perhaps because I have been spending the week trying to OCCUPY Thanksgiving) the build up to Thanksgiving this week has been filled with moments of nostalgia and flashes of memory brought on by the power of my senses and some strange moments of serendipity.

 Today the house will fill with other scintillating smells,  as well as the delicious flavors that lead to overindulgence and (hopefully) create fabulous memories for my daughter, as  we have a family Thanksgiving.

While our family Thanksgivings have become more about a decadent meal than anything else for the past few years, I am still thankful for the memories of Thanksgivings past–memories that are carried in the scents and flavors of our traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Part of the joy of Thanksgiving was the rush home the day before after a half-day of school. The cool but crisp autumn air making me walk more quickly to get inside the warmth of the place called home. Yesterday, Sarah rushed in with excitement and energy, partially incited by the thrill of a homework assignment (believe it or not) where she is asked to interview a family member about his/her life as a third grader and Thanksgivings past. It should be fun hearing the stories, and I might encourage her to interview everyone not just one person.

Yesterday evening we decided to head to the movies to watch The Muppets which added to my feelings of nostalgia with the songs, sounds, and beloved characters of my youth. I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the movie (once I got over the slight disappointment of character voices that weren’t quite right. Frank Oz was not part of this movie, and Fozzy Bear suffered for his lack). I found myself singing along to songs old and new, with a flashback to a favorite childhood performance of mine as I joined the muppets in a moving rendition of “Rainbow Connection.”

Yesterday, as I wrote my post in honor of Anne McCaffrey, I had an instant memory of a story I wrote for my class in sixth grade. Actually, it was a collection of stories and poems that I wrote and copied precisely into a hard covered dark green book with a gold pattern on the front and a red ribbon bookmark attached. Each story or poem has illustrations, also made by me.  I have that book somewhere and had hoped to copy the pages of the dragon story inspired by my reading of McCaffrey into my post, but we cannot find the book as it is lost in some of the boxes yet to find a place.  It is amazing how I can still picture the writing and the smell of that book and even the feel of the smooth pages in that book. I even remember the feeling in my hand as I cautiously drew light pencil lines on the blank pages, followed by penciled in letters, followed by tracing each letter in black marker before adding the illustrations.

The creation of my first book.

In a bizarre twist of nostalgic fate, just last night, Mrs. Jorgenson, the fabulous teacher who assigned the project to me accepted a friend request on Facebook that I had sent long ago. Coincidence or a reminder that we should be thankful for all of our past experiences, and all of the amazing teachers who have guided our hands along the way?

Finally, in the mail yesterday I received a book sent to me by someone who I have known since grade school at least, if not earlier. Milton has been following my blog (thanks for that)  and staying in touch via Facebook and he wrote me last week saying:

“I came across a book of quotes I thought you might like today and wanted to send it along. It’s called “The Quotable Woman”. My Sister in Law was giving it away and I thought you might get some use from it.”

As soon as I got it I started reading,  and of course my eyes were filled with wisdom and words from women of all types. Some you’ve heard before, some you haven’t, but all of them lend food for my thoughts about the power of women’s voices. So thank you, Milton, for this special little gift.   I have a feeling these quotes will be appearing in my posts for a while, starting withe these two found in the chapter called “Time and Change.”

“Memory is more indelible than ink. ” Anita Loos

“Sometimes I would almost rather have people take away years of my life than take away a moment.” Pearl Bailey

I leave you today wishing you all a wonderful day, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not. Take today and enjoy every moment with all of your senses.

Occupy Thanksgiving?? Challenges to Thankfulness

It’s hard to be thankful with dog poop on your shoe.
It’s hard to be thankful with so much stuff yet to do.

It’s hard to be thankful when you just learned today
that a dear friend from your past had a partner go away.

It’s hard to be thankful when another friend you know
Was mugged, pushed and frightened, with her face taking a blow.

It’s hard to be thankful when every other sound
reveals Democracy is failing and the world has turned around.

It’s hard to be thankful, and yet I know I must
find joy in the people I know and I trust.

The world might end tomorrow, but we still have today
Let’s fill it with laughter, joy, happiness and play.

Today I will be thankful for every choice I’ve made
for friends, for travel, and for a life for which I have no shame.

Today I will be thankful, although its hard to do
So Happy Thanksgiving my friends, I hope you are thankful too.

What do you do when you find it hard to be thankful?

OCCUPY Thanksgiving: A Little Grateful Wordplay

grate·ful

1. warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful

2. expressing or actuated by gratitude

3 .pleasing to the mind or senses; agreeable or welcome
[I think I almost broke myself trying to be creative on this one. Please forgive the strange spacing]
Because sometimes we don’t have the words to thank
Every person who has every touched us.
I would like to take a moment
Not just today, or this week, but everyday, to say thanks for
Goodness and  kindness, smiles and tears.
Good people come in many guises, as do good deeds
Remembering  to be thankful for them is
Almost as important as
Taking the time to be kind to
Each other.
Friendship and family are the most valuable commodity
Under the sun.
Love and thanks to everyone who has touched my life.

OCCUPY THANKSGIVING Meets the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups

This week  marks the 20th 100 Word Challenge over at Julia’s Place. I think I have missed a couple, but it has been a wonderful journey through incredible writing.

Be sure to check out other entries.

As usual, Julia has set us an interesting challenge. In her words:

Now for this week we are going topical again. The King James bible celebrated it’s 400th birthday last week. Although it is a religious text is has formed our language across the years. It has some surprising phrases that we use often in  everyday conversations.

The prompt this week is to use at least one of these for inspiration.

…the powers that be  /  the apple of his eye  /   the writing on the wall…

You do not have to include the phrase if you don’t want to but the piece must indicate which it was in it’s content. As usual you have 100 words and it must be suitable for a PG certificate.

I, of course, have to make things even more difficult for myself, because I decided today that all my posts this week should fit into the OCCUPY THANKSGIVING movement started over at Jamie’s fabulous blog. So here is a non-fiction post that is very personal and might be just a smidge shy of an R rating (sorry Julia). I am also including a picture, because it seems right.

Daddy and daughter bonding over a video game.

I remember the day I read the writing on the wall, the spot of blood that indicated something was wrong. I fought against the reality for as long as I could, but the painful truth was that I briefly carried a child not meant to live. Less than a year passed when the powers that be granted me a gift that helped make up for the pain of that loss. I sit and watch my husband interacting with Sarah, the apple of his eye, and realize that even with the occasional battle of wills, this was the child I was meant to have, and I am forever grateful.

 

OCCUPY THANKSGIVING: Random Thankful Thoughts

My head has been bombarded with random thankful thoughts today, so here I go:

  • I am thankful for the two purchases Nathan made to make my trip to Slovakia easier, an I-Pod Nano (which I finally got to work) and a Kindle (which I have finally succumbed too). The Nano turned a walk to escape stress into a fabulous workout where I let my body give into the rhythm of the music.  The Kindle enabled me to get some work done even after my printer ink died making me unable to print out the document I needed to read. I was able to go get ink and treat myself to a warm drink while still accomplishing my goal.

Who would have thought that I'd like more technology?

  • I just ran into a stunningly beautiful woman. Tall, blonde, slim, dressed impeccably including high-heeled boots to die for.  Now you would think  that would make me a tad grumpy in all my five-foot, lumpy, dressed in sweats style. But, as I came up next to this woman  who must have towered over me by well over a foot, I suddenly thought, “Wow, I bet it hurt to grow that tall. How do you even find your way to the toilet?” (we ran into each other at the restroom which she graciously allowed me to use first). So, for the first time ever I am thankful that I am short.
  • I am thankful that dogs aren’t necessarily the brightest animals in the world. I came home to discover that one of the cables we use to put the dogs out had snapped completely. Of course, that didn’t prevent the dogs from wanting to go outside. So, I put Jasper (the more rambunctious one) on the cable that still functions and then attached the broken cable to Lizzy, hoping she would think she was attached and not wander too far. It worked. LOL

    Don't let the bright eyes fool you. They aren't as smart as they look. 😉

    There you have it, two thankful posts in one day. What other craziness will ensue?

    I am also thankful that Jamie came up with this wonderful idea to OCCUPY THANKSGIVING and that I am not a turkey.

    Join the Occupy Thanksgiving Movement!

     

OCCUPY THANKSGIVING: Thinking Thankfully

This weekend was a challenge.

Between teaching classes for students who, I believe, had already started Thanksgiving break in their minds (despite the fact that they still have 2 1/2 days of school this week); avoiding the course about self-publishing which has me completely intimidated and realizing I have a lot of work left to do, even when it comes to format; listening to my daughter scream, cry, and whine for over an hour as she decided to spend most of yesterday (and part of Saturday) in one of her spoiled-brat stages of existence–rare but still painful; trying to plan a fun Thanksgiving for a very complicated family: and the fact that I allowed myself to be sucked into computer games as I avoided the chaos, I feel like a completely useless waste of space.

That’s not a good feeling.

But, no worries folks, this is not going to be a whining post or even a post asking for sympathy.

Instead I am going to listen to these words of wisdom from the fabulous and talented Christine in her guest post called “Something worth celebrating” over at The Idiot Speaketh (the complicated connections of this blogging world leads to many links)

” It probably comes pretty naturally to most of us to strive for excellence of some sort. But this pursuit of greatness shouldn’t prevent us from recognizing, and celebrating, those of us who are being the best we can be.
Many times we focus on what we lack in ability. I’d like to suggest we make the effort to keep our thoughts turned to what we can do.”

In other words, we should be thankful for and learn to appreciate what we already have, even as we strive to achieve our dreams and goals.

So, in honor of this wisdom and the fact that Thanksgiving is this week, I am determined to focus on the positive and think thankfully. Starting . . .  NOW!

A UNIVERSE OF THANKS

Sunshine reflecting sparkles on the wall
of a home filled with warmth, love and dreams.

Warm chai spiciness sits on my tongue
made by a partner, husband, friend,

Words waiting to be written or read
celebrating a lifetime of learning.

A family filled with laughter and fun
supporting each other in all ways.

Blogging buddies and lifetime friends
filling the gaps of loneliness.

Future adventures looming near
a journey to countries and people unknown.

Past adventures that I hold dear
filling my life with life.

I may not know who I am today
nor what I will become tomorrow
but the gifts of the journey along the way
mean a life filled with joy not sorrow.

Update: Tori’s comment below reminded me that she had written a wonderful thankfulness post the other day. So now I am adding the link to hers and will continue to add any posts that I feel will help us feel thankful:

Thankful Blogger Am Thankful by Tori Nelson

Inspiration: A Thanksgiving Memory

Update to the Update: In honor of this excellent idea to Occupy Thanksgiving by the always brilliant Jamie note the new title of this post

New Glasses+New Underwear=New World

I’ve been making a lot of changes over the past few weeks (or months). That’s not to say that I have completely overcome my depression or frustration. I’m still in the waiting game with the unknown. We still don’t know quite where we will be at the end of the summer (although we have some hopes). But, I’ve made some major and minor changes that seem really symbolic, and I believe indicate something excellent on the horizon.  Here are some of them:

  • I’ve lost about 20 lbs since Thanksgiving (or, to be more accurate since my brother’s heart attack before Thanksgiving). I’m not dieting;I refuse to diet. But, I am making healthy changes and choices which seem to, slowly but surely, had an effect on my weight.
  • As a result of weight loss, I actually bought myself some new clothes (that, in itself, is quite a miracle for me). Included in those purchases was sassy new underwear (not my traditional, boring, cotton), new bras, and a sexy new bathing suit. My body is far from where I want to see it (I have at least 40 more lbs to lose) but something inside me decided it was time to start feeling good about myself no matter what.
  • I started this blog, which has been very fun and helpful in many ways. I even started a second one yesterday, for less personal stuff and more fun writing practice. (Check it out pppwritingpractice.wordpress.com) Perhaps this is avoiding some things, but I’m really enjoying writing again.
  • I started searching for my family history, just because it is something I’ve always wanted to do.
  • I walk or exercise in some form at least 5 days a week. I don’t think I need to write how helpful that is.
  • And, I finally decided to give up on contacts. They haven’t been working for me for a while (too dry, too tired). So I have ordered new glasses with transition lenses and have accepted that I can grow old gracefully. The glasses haven’t come in yet, but I really feel that they too will service my new attitude.

What other things do I need to do to keep improving my new world?  What have you done recently to improve yours?

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