Last year, Dad was supposed to make his traditional fried turkey and now for the second year in a row, he won’t be showing up with his fryer contraption and propane fueled blowtorch. We’ll miss his garlic infused turkey and Mom’s southern sweet potatoes with her perfected marshmallow crust. We will miss them most of all. I started feeling sad yesterday and today I’m crying. Just a little bit. Not enough to ruin my mascara or muddy the pumpkin pie.
It has finally happened. Our traditional family get-together has been altered two years in a row. My parents are spending Thanksgiving by themselves again. We can’t schedule a day that includes all the siblings and all the grandkids, which is what happened to my parents when they stopped visiting their parents and the pattern continues. We’re little kids. We’re old people. We turn eighty and pass the blowtorch to the young until they get old and pass their electric fryers to the next generation who may be cooking turkey with appliances we can’t even imagine yet. Or, maybe they’ll decide the old ways were best and revive the new-and-improved blowtorch. One can only hope.
We will be eating at my sister’s house this year. She has four boys, two of which are married and one of which is expecting a baby this spring. My sister and her hubbie are fixing the basic meal and the only dishes we’re contributing from our household are sweet potatoes (I’ll be thinking of Mom while lavishing them with butter), cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. I am grateful for my sister’s willing heart knowing full well she’ll be exhausted by the end of the day and still, she’s doing her best to carry the tradition forward.
Thanksgiving isn’t just about heartburn, though. It’s a traditional time to express our gratitude which people have been doing long before we could buy Gratitude Journals, Gratitude books, Gratitude tapes and DVDs. Gratitude is a little bit too cool for comfort so I am grateful I grew up when gratitude came from the heart spontaneously--or it didn’t. I kinda liked it when old people expressed gratitude for their family, and the young people were grateful they never would be as old as their weepy relatives. Now kids are whipping out Gratitude Journals and the whole thing feels like a 1950’s Coronet film. O well, research says we're happier if we just go with the crowd, sooooooo:
Gratitude Journal Entry
For all of you who are facing an uncertain future and can’t fathom being grateful for anything today, maybe you can be grateful that you haven't broken. That you are willing to accept a nasty reality you don’t like, didn’t earn, and did not attract into your life. Maybe you can feel grateful for your resilience because you’re beginning to find ‘meaning’ in your experience but please, do not thank the narcissist for coming into your life to teach you lessons about human cruelty, indifference, and malice.
The only lesson a narcissist wants to teach you is that YOU aren't as great as you think you are, you aren't as worthy of love as you believe, that people are mercenary, self-absorbed and heartless and Thanksgiving is a commercial conspiracy fostered by Turkey Growers of America, Inc.
This day, I am grateful for my daughter, what a wonderful woman she is. I am grateful for my nephew and the joy he brings into our lives. I am not-so-grateful for my sister who lives with me, though maybe a little bit and even more if she'll help us do the dishes.
I am also deeply grateful to WoN members who lifted my spirit and validated my worth and supported me whole-heartedly during the most difficult time in my life. And I am grateful for each of you reading my blog today: that you didn't give up and you didn't believe the lies you were told (or taught) about yourself. That you didn't escape reality, too. That you chose to do the hard work of creating a new life for yourself.
I am grateful that even when confronted with the worst that humans can be, we still believe in human goodness---enough to read strangers' messages and care enough about them to reply.
I am grateful for continued faith in human kindness even with adequate evidence to the contrary. I am grateful we do not allow narcissists to dictate our beliefs about human nature. This is a miracle for which we can be grateful. I think about it a lot...how tempting it was to believe human beings were selfish animals, self-invested, self-serving and self-admiring. Some humans ARE like that but most are not. I am grateful to know this today.
Love to all,