Thanksgiving, and What Really Matters


Thanksgiving week is here!! College kids are coming home with dark circles under their eyes and heavy bags of laundry. Parents are shopping frantically for massive quantities of food. Every car that has been manufactured in the last 20 years is on the road and trying to get into your lane. You know…the holidays!


I try to breathe more slowly this week. I try to be more patient. Road rage fades into graciousness on the highway. Lists make shopping easier and more peaceful and efficient. Keeping the things and people who are most important to you front and center on your priority list can slow everything down, allowing you to focus on what really matters.


I’m essentially done with my food shopping… Timmy is coming home from Boston and Jack is coming home from Virginia and I CANNOT wait to have them here for a few days before they go back for final exams. The two youngest are in college? Impossible! We were just making turkeys out of construction paper and paper plates.


The holiday itself comes with mixed emotions. In many ways, Thanksgiving is easy. Everyone celebrates it, and you are not offending anyone by wishing them Happy Thanksgiving. There are parades with floats and bands and without protests. There is football and relatives and good healthy food. Decorating is minimal and presents are not required at all. It is the holiday of Ohmmm.


And then there is the holiday table. Innocuous in and of itself…nice china, overflowing with food and laughter…sometimes a kids’ table adjacent…but there are always the echoes and momentary glimpses in a corner of those who are not here anymore. The chairs that will never be filled with that particular personality ever again, and some of those personalities are truly once in a lifetime gifts.  There was my Uncle Tiger, who would gather all the children (and that is not a few children) up and play games or watch a movie with them. He would play the piano and sing. He had nicknames for everyone, and you just couldn’t wait to see him.  And there was my sweet Aunt Ellen. Thanksgiving was HER holiday. She had recipes that were decades old. She could set a table like nobody’s business. She made everything look beautiful and effortless, and she made you feel loved just by the way she looked at you. What we would all give for one more Thanksgiving.


But they knew…they knew they were adored. There are no regrets. Tell us the story again, Uncle Tiger! Did you make the mold, Aunt Ellen? In the traditions and the laughter, they knew that they were loved. A good lesson of Thanksgiving…be actually thankful for the really important things. Not the new car. Not the awesome shoes. For the love, for the people, for the laughter.


And when you are missing those people whose seats will not be filled this year, remember to look around and love with your heart wide open all the people who ARE there. They have stories too!! And then, with wonder in your eyes and enthusiasm in your heart, look all the way down the table to the kids’ end. They bring the new stories and excitement and traditions, and they look to us to keep going with the old stories and older traditions.


And so love grows.


Slow down on the roads. It will all get done. You will find a parking spot. The food will be terrific. Remember the love that is gone and embrace and celebrate the love that is still here with everything that you have!!!


Wishing you the happiest, healthiest, and most grateful Thanksgiving,

Colleen Walsh


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