I am having a hard time with Thanksgiving.
To be clear, I’m not having a hard time with giving thanks. I have so much to be thankful for, and I am thankful, beyond what words can express.
But this year, I am having a hard time with Thanksgiving, because of who won’t be around the table, and to some degree, where the table isn’t located.
You see, this is my first Thanksgiving with no “Grandma’s House” to go to. Last year, we celebrated at my cousin’s house for the first time ever because both of my grandmothers were too frail to host a Thanksgiving feast. After our big family gathering, I went to my paternal grandma’s and she was able to sit in her chair and I was able to hold her hand and tell her I love her, was able to see her smile at my children, and hear her tell me she loved me. It wasn’t the same as years past, but I still got to go to Grandma’s house.
My maternal grandmother celebrated with us at my cousin’s, but as she got ready to leave, she got confused and said, “Where are my children?”
That was the first sign of what would become a rapid decline for her. Early Alzheimer’s was diagnosed after a fall on Christmas Day. On Valentine’s Day, we moved her into an assisted living…two days after my other grandma died.
That was not the best week of my life. It hasn’t been the best year for our family.
This year, though we still have my mom’s mom, she won’t be joining us for Thanksgiving, because two weeks ago she broke her hip. She’s in rehab, she’s confused, she’s not well enough to come, and though we can visit her, we are all so sad about what will never be the same.
Looking back on my life I am so thankful I had 37 years of going to Grandma’s House for Thanksgiving. And I’m so thankful for the family and the table and the bounty that we will have this year, too. I am thankful for a gracious cousin who does an amazing job hosting our big extended family, for plenty to eat, for my parents and brothers and sisters-in-laws, and the best cousins and nieces and nephews around. I am thankful for the health and love of my husband and children. I am thankful for a God who sees and understands ALL my mixed-up feelings.
And so I will give thanks—so many thanks!!— but it won’t be without a bit of ache in my heart, for the two warm, safe, good-smelling, comforting places I called Grandma’s House.
I know I am not the only one who is feeling a loss this holiday season. Indeed, many are feeling them far greater than I am. So tell me, and let’s help each other out…who (or where) are you missing this Thanksgiving?