Sure, there are lots of jokes to be made about America’s custom of giving thanks one day and then trampling our fellow citizens to get 50% off a new television the next day. We can complain about difficult family members, dishes to clean, and a “holiday” that normally involves plenty of work for moms. On most years, I’m right there with the masses — rolling my eyes at Thanksgiving and gulping a glass of wine. This year, after losing my grandmother, I have to admit that the day feels a little more somber, a little more serious. And it really reminds me that I have a lot to be thankful for.
More than anything today, I am so thankful for my mother. For years, I’ve watched her care for an elderly parent. In the past months, she spent almost every waking moment tending to my grandmother. She went there before work to help her start her day. She went there the second work was done to cook dinner, give medication, adjust pillows and just have a talk. My mother dedicated a large part of her life in the past years taking care of her own mom. Now, she’s left as the matriarch. Now, she’s the head of the household who everyone gathers around.
It’s an enormous honor and a very real burden. All of our holidays change, because they used to take place around my grandmother’s antique table in the farmhouse that my grandfather grew up in. The farm is sold. The table moved down to my mother’s house. Now she’s in charge.
I am so grateful that I have a strong, loving woman to look up to. One who understands how important it is to get the whole family together. She knows how to selflessly dedicate herself to anyone who needs help. But she also knows how to bring her kids, and now their kids, together. She knows just what we need to celebrate and support one another.
This year, I’m watching the pain my mother has gone through. I’m seeing how hard it is to weather the first holiday without a loved one. I’m hearing the tears in her voice as she tells me what our Thanksgiving plans are. I know that she’s struggling in her new role. This year, I want to do everything I can to help my mom.
But I also want to take a minute and appreciate what I have. I’m witnessing first-hand how hard it is to lose that guiding force in your life. I want to honor what my mother is going through by remembering just how blessed I am to still have my mom, to still have such an amazing role model. I want to let my daughter know how lucky she is to have a Mimi who is able to be here, how lucky she is to have grandparents that get to watch her grow.
Our family holiday is a somber one this year. It’s not just the turkey and the beer and the football. Today, we miss a loving grandmother who was the centerpiece of so many holidays. But we also feel thankful for everything that we have, including an amazing woman ready to take the reigns, to live up to the example that her mother set.