Thanksgiving is kind of a sad time for me, for the most part. My grandfather died around Thanksgiving years ago, and my mom kinda parted ways with her siblings after her mother died years later. My parents are divorced. One of my sisters lives across the country and the other usually spends the holiday with her fiancé's family. Mom doesn't really have anyone to make dinner for, and two of her daughters don't even eat meat so we don't want her turkey and stuffing, and she's not a big fan of modifying her traditional dishes for our tastes.
My mom is used to being from a giant family (she is one of eight children) and now you just hear the echoes.
I have no special attachment to Thanksgiving as a holiday myself, but I care a lot about how it affects my mom, and I always want to make it special for her. Just being there isn't enough--I think there's not much I can do short of inventing a time machine and returning her to twenty years ago--but it's something. I invited her to come with me to my friend Jeaux's family Thanksgiving, but she didn't want to, so I'm going in the daytime and will come back in the afternoon with some food, and hopefully spend the night. She has roommates but hopefully their sports-watching weirdness won't be too distracting.
But there was one Thanksgiving that will always stand out to me and that was the one when I really knew what it was to be grateful.
It was fall 2005. And my little sister was missing.
I won't go into detail out of privacy for my family, but my youngest sister had gone missing shortly before Thanksgiving. Not just nobody had seen her. As in, her apartment was vacant (with most of her stuff still there), she hadn't gone to work in a long time, no one knew where she was, boom, disappeared. My sis is one of those people who really doesn't stay in touch, so it was normal for even her mother to not talk to her for a month, but my mom's alarm bells turned out to be right. She was missing.
My mom turned into a superhero. She was tireless about searching and following leads and being a detective interviewing people she knew and doing everything, with pretty much no help, and it all led somewhere. She FOUND HER. My mom rescued my sister. And took her in and took care of her.
My mom and sisters and I had Thanksgiving together that year. We hadn't for a long time because my middle sister lived in Japan and I lived in a different part of Florida from my mom and youngest sister. But we did that year. It was such an intense time, and Thanksgiving was like a release . . . it was all okay, we'd found her, she was going to be all right, we were together. We had so much to be thankful for. So much gratitude.
|My mom's amazing, even if she does wear SpongeBob sweatpants to Thanksgiving.|
I hope we never have to go through something like that again. But it certainly was a wake-up call about what not to take for granted.
I'll never forget it. When you see what could have been, you realize what you have.