I was raised believing Thanksgiving was a time when people of different cultures and beliefs were able to rejoice in our mutual bonding of being new natives in a new country.  Sadly, later, I learned a truer version; that we were intruders on a more naive cultural and took great advantage of that.

Yet, as a child, I was very unaware of these situations and embraced the holiday as one of the few times our extended families gathered to share a day of remembrance and love.

I have had a few Thanksgivings that were out of the ordinary.  One unique Thanksgiving, a friend and I were traveling to my family when his car broke down. I had been following him in my 1962 Valiant when we pulled into a late night garage to see if his car could be helped. Of course not.

During the time we waited, we talked with another family with similar car difficulties. Oddly enough, they were traveling to a distance local to our destination. Not 15 miles north of us.  Since their vehicle would not be ready for several days, and my friend’s car was completely incapacitated, we gathered everyone and everything into the Valiant (such an appropriate name!) Somewhat crowded but excited none the less.

This was what Thanksgiving is about. Bringing families together, even if they weren’t our own, but being able to deliver them to their own,  the appreciation and the fun of the travel will never be forgotten. Their children were very appreciative and hugs went all around. Many blessings on that night before Thanksgiving.

On another Thanksgivings I was severely incapacitated and far from family. It would have been the first time I would ever miss Thanksgiving with my family.  It was emotionally devastating to me, so Mark, (my future husband) offered to drive me 300 miles one way, so I could share this special day with family – AND introduce him to those who mattered to me. Driving in the back seat of a small car to keep my back flat is not the most enjoyable way to travel, but to see my family made every ache, every second with them worthwhile.

The third, and most important, Thanksgiving, the year Matthew left us. One week before Thanksgiving, Matthew ‘disappeared’ – a potential suicide at the time.  What could we do? We were in shock. Our holidays were on hold.  We could barely count minutes, let alone days. Thanksgiving? what could we possibly think or even do?

One of the greatest gifts, and we have had SO MANY since losing Matthew, but on this Thanksgiving, our friends, Judy and Patrick, insisted we come to their home for the holiday.  We found the strength to get dressed and come to their home.

It was only a week afterwards but I do remember the tables were set, the autumn decorations abound, an abundance of fabulous food and a photo of our sons on their mantle. Judy, even in her grief, was able to stand and thank us all for being together, to share our love with each other, and to thank the time we had with Matthew. He was loved and missed and would never be forgotten.

Such a blessing  on Thanksgiving  that can never be forgotten and will always be cherished.

Thanksgiving for me is a gift as great as life, because our friends and our sons’ friends helped us through such a trying time that allowed us all, eventually, to appreciate and give thanks back for their efforts in our time of grief.

May you always give Thanks in your time of plenty and Prayers in your time of loss, for you will always share them both with the ones you love.