The menu was the same. It’s always the same. The apples fragrantly baked in its antique-brown stoneware dish exactly as it has for the past 39 years I have spent Thanksgiving with my in-laws. The framed pictures that tell our extended family’s story still cover the piano, as well as every nook and cranny in the overstuffed house. Favorite stories, expressions, memories, shared again and again, and laughter ensued as if it were the first time we had ever shared them.
Thanksgiving was the same as it has always been at the Gavers.
And yet it was different.
This past year has made me more aware of the sacredness of life. And health. And family. And having a safe place where you can just be yourself. No judgment. No criticism. Nothing to prove. Just people who love you, support you, know your history, care for and about you.
I savored the image of my 82 year old mother-in-law, Betty, as she relaxed in her wheelchair, timidly observing the festivities and conversing with her older sister, Lucille. It seemed like just a whisper of time since she solely orchestrated the annual performance with such authority and confidence. This year, our feast was a collaborative effort which afforded every generation an opportunity to spotlight their organizational, culinary, or domestic talent. It was the same, yet different.
Although the carving of the turkey remained in the hands of our family’s patriarch, the torch was passed to the fourth generation when heads were bowed and the blessing was given. Four-year-old Ava sang the family’s blessing with such sweetness that our family erupted in applause.
It has not been an easy year. But it has been a year which taught me many lessons…. to honor the sacred and fragrance of life. To surround myself with people who unconditionally provide for me a sense of belonging.
And so on this Thanksgiving Day, my heart is full.