So suddenly it’s Thanksgiving. How did that happen? Wasn’t it just Halloween? It’s that time of year when all the holidays start running together and it all starts to blur. One year I was so fed up with the whole thing that just for fun, I came up with the greeting “Happy Hallothankschristmakwanzukah” and designed a graphic for it. There’s just so many things to celebrate this time of year and I felt there should be one greeting that covers all of it. You’ll have to rehearse it a few times before it rolls off your tongue, though.
I have to admit, the last few years I really haven’t been in a festive mood during the holidays. I didn’t have a desire to have a tree or decorate much, because it only seemed to emphasize what I didn’t have, and that made me feel much worse. The first year I only put lights on a bench I had, and that was all I could handle. I put the few presents I did buy on it and called it the Christmas Bench. It was just enough.
The next year I didn’t have the bench. I had a rocking chair, so it morphed into the Christmas Rocker, and I put a few more lights up, added a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and a Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer character set, complete with Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable. My grandson got a kick out of that. And that was just enough.
This year I am in a completely different place in my head and my heart and actually for the first time in many years am looking forward to the season. So I have been slowly purchasing some Christmas items for my new home, proceeding carefully and thinking hard about just how I want to do this. It’s going to be pretty simple, since money is tight, but that’s OK. I really don’t want to fill up my home and tree with a bunch of cheap plastic stuff that doesn’t mean anything.
I should have thought harder about that when I was dividing things up during my divorce, but I was emotionally fragile and the thought of going through the Christmas decorations was more than I could bear at the time, so I didn’t. And now I think about all those wonderful memories, in a box, far off in someone else’s basement, and a part of me kind of wishes I had.
I remember being so broke one year a long time ago that I made my Christmas ornaments with paper and glue. Those ornaments were pretty cool and became even more special over the years. And now, with a new beginning, it would seem to be a good idea again, to make some new ornaments that reflect where I am in my life right now.
So that’s probably what I will spend the weekend doing, since I make it a point not to venture out on Black Friday. There is nothing, absolutely nothing I need so badly that I have to go through all that grief for. So I will stay home, put on some Christmas tunes, fire up my glue gun and my imagination, and create. And as I create, I will be thankful, since that is what this whole holiday is about. And being so, it’s probably the best holiday that ever was created, because being thankful is important, not just on a particular designated day, but on every single day of the year. And we already know this.
But what are we thankful for? Obviously all the good and wonderful things in our lives. That’s a no-brainer, or should be. But it’s not only the good and wonderful things that have brought us to where we are. We are a product of everything we have encountered, and if we are at a good place in our lives and happy, then we have to consider being thankful for those less positive influences in our lives.
Can we be that generous? To wish those well who have injured us along the way? Because without them, we might have made different choices. We might never have considered options without having been forced to face them. And it’s only because of these people and situations that we have been provided with these opportunities. So we should be thankful for them… right?
So I would like to propose an idea to you this holiday season. This wonderful, magical time of love and thankfulness. A perfect time to reach out and show others how much we care about them. Who will be at your Thanksgiving table this year, and more importantly, who is not? What defines family and who we include in our lives? Love is about reaching out, being there for those we care about. It’s about remembering who we are, and who we want to include.
Sometimes, people forget who they are and what’s important. They lose their way, and they might not realize how far they have strayed. Or they might realize it, but not know how to find their way back. If we love them, it’s up to us to help them remember. It’s up to us to find them and bring them back.
If you have someone in your life who has forgotten, reach out to them. Tell them how much they mean to you, how important they are in your life. Take the time to put it in words, and find a moment to express it in a meaningful way. Pull them back from the edge of the abyss, or hell… jump into that abyss, find them and bring them back out into the light. This season is not about abandoning those who have forgotten the song in their heart, it’s about including people, drawing them in, reminding them who they are and what they mean to us. We all have unfinished business or strained relationships in our lives. This holiday season I wish for you the strength and courage to do something about that and reach out in even the simplest, tiniest way… and watch what happens.
It’s gonna be worth it. I promise.
Originally published November 23, 2012