Friday, November 23, 2007

A Giving of Thanks

This photo is for you, Lynn, across the ocean in England, a friend for 41 years. 41 years? Can that really be true? But weren't we both just 14 last year - Fellow yellow gorillas in our Suburban Hospital candy-striper yellow pinafores?

Lynn asked me to take a photo of everyone this Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if I would have done the whole tripod/timer/portrait thing if she had not asked. Surely if there ever was a Thanksgiving for us to remember, it was this one. Marriage, birth, impending birth,honor rolls, and internships, Chris's recovery, and my mother's health and new-found strength. Look how she shines in that photo!

It has been our tradition at the Thanksgiving table to go around and say what we are each thankful for. There's a lot of repetition, because in a family, most of us are thankful for the same things. But what makes it so special is that you never know what will come out of whose mouth. There are the short and sweet answers, and the expected, yet heartfelt responses And then there are the ones that bring tears to everyone's eyes. My Dad couldn't even get a word out before he got all choked up. He'd manage 5 words and then have to compose himself again. Which put us all in tears. He said, tearfully, that this family is more than he ever imagined he would have, a statement that is even more significant when you know that he was an only child, orphaned at 14. He is so proud of how we have all turned out, our accomplishments, our love, the people we fall in love with and add to our family, the little ones that come as a result. That didn't happen by chance, Dad, we have just followed your example.

Then we wind around the table to Chris. Chris usually doesn't say much, a man of few words. But when he does.... He's the guy that wanted to go last at the soccer team banquet 5 years ago. Each senior player takes the podium to say a few words. Chris knew everyone would say something funny and brief. He chose to go last so he could give the meaningful speech, the one that made this mother's heart swell and tears break out in hers and all the other mother's eyes, and yes, even a few players. Well, he did the same last night. He didn't go last, but he went deep. It's moments like this that I am thankful for. I need nothing more than to see my family together, to create a day like this that brings us all together both physically and emotionally.

And I must share this. It's no big deal, but I was just so proud of myself. I was so excited that I figured out a way that all 18 of us could be at one table. Actually it was 3 tables all pushed together and covered with, of all things, a drop cloth. It was the only thing I could think of that would cover a 8x8' table that I cold get on Wednesday afternoon AND that wouldn't cost a fortune. It was $20! unbleached cotton canvas - looked like linen. If I was truly Martha Stewart I would have rushed home and hand-painted, stenciled or appliqued something on it, but Martha wouldn't do that anyway. She just gets the ideas. The helpers (OK, paid staff) do all the work.

I hope that all of you had a day that brought warmth to your soul. There are many ways to make a day special, whether you are with just yourself, your family, friends or community. And we needn't reserve anything just for the official day of thanks. Joy can be created everyday simply by realizing that any part of our lives, no matter how small, is something to be thankful for.
Happiness is the experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. ~ Denis Waitley
What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around? ~William Stafford


Judy said...

Brilliant post Lesley. Glad you got such a great photo of everyone, in my experiences documenting families, it seems to e rare, there is always someone missing. It is so important down the track to do it.
I have to admit, I shed a little tear when reading about your dad but then felt happy again when reading and seeing how his/your family has grown. The love and energy that came from the post is really palpable. So whilst we down here dont celebrate Thanksgiving, I am glad you had such a nice time.

Oh and congratulations - lol!!!

Judy Merrill-Smith said...

Your photos brought a big smile to my face! Thanks for sharing them.

Loretta said...

Glorious, just glorious, both the sentiments and the photos. May all out Thanksgivings be as satisfying as this one!

Maggie said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful family and the time you spent together