Sunday, December 1, 2013

Latkes, turkey, roast beef and a side of gratitude

Thanksgiving weekend dwindles to a close.  My house is quiet and feels empty now that my family has left.  I’m on my fifth load of laundry, beds are remade and the fridge is my emptier (though my wine rack much more full – thank you Mini-mom and her husband, Gardener!!)  We’re ready for the week ahead but I would be remiss if I didn’t express some long overdue thanks for the recent days.

I know it’s that time of year when we should profess our thankfulness and our gratitude while plotting which stores to hit and how to beat everyone else to the sale to get that one thing we don’t really need but have to have so that we can be thankful for it the next year. Now, I’m no Pollyanna – I like nice things as much as the next person but I’ve really been working on dialing it back and trying to really appreciate and use what I have.

So, in that spirit I have much to be thankful for this year – and I try to keep the gratitude greater than the grief.

I’m beyond thankful that Neiman has beat cancer.  It has been a gift to be able to support her through this journey and I’m glad I was able to be by her side.  I will always be grateful that Robert, her mighty oak, was by her side as well.

I am saddened by the loss of such a mighty oak.  And while I will always appreciate the way the stars aligned that allowed me to be there, supporting Neiman, when we said goodbye to such an amazing man – the fact we had to say goodbye was a dark spot in this year.

I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that the bullying Mini-Me has experienced is tapering off – or at least maybe going dormant.  The start of the school year was terribly difficult but Mini-Me has come through stronger and braver than I could ever have hoped.  I learned how to better support her – so she could support herself.  I’m grateful for those that helped us along the way.

I continue to be deeply bothered that the bullying exists. That our schools don’t do enough, that they leave these children “to work it out among themselves” and that parents don’t know or acknowledge the role their own child may have played (and all the kids involved played a role – even mine.)

My year was made brighter by two visits with my dear friend, Runner!  She and her sweet daughter visited in July and just a few weeks back, she and her husband were here on business. We were able to really visit, catch up and share more laughs than drinks, which is just how it should be. 

As always, I relished the two visits we had with Geek and her sweet girl, Kooky.  Despite the fact that we talk every single night (and have for almost 7 years), the in-person visits allow us to connect differently. Mini-me and Kooky play, get annoyed, laugh, shriek and don’t want to leave each other’s side.  We are all content to just hang out in close proximity.  Mini-me and I are already excited about seeing them later this month.

Belle and I took our annual September trip to the beach. Once again, Patron and Beach were out of town and graciously let us take over their oh-so-comfortable home.  For a few days, we beached, relaxed, shopped and just hang out.  We visited with Mini-Mom and her family, took the girls to a few new places and even enjoyed the mind-numbing ride on the 10.  I’m grateful for that time with friends and that my family welcomes my friends so readily into their homes.

Last Wednesday, I watched Mini-me, my nephew and niece light the Menorah.  I heard them say the prayer and I got tears in my eyes.  I could easily blame it on the onions that were grated for the latkes…but I won’t take the easy way out.  As we raised our glasses – my table full of Mini-Mom, Gardener and the swimmers, my dear neighbors and friends – the gratitude was overwhelming. So blessed to have such good friends in my life but on a more significant note, thrilled to have kindled the lights with my sister, with whom I have not done so in more than 20 years.

So, at the end of this Thanksgiving weekend, I am most grateful that I was joined by my sister and her family.  Like many great things, our relationship has not always been easy – we’re sisters after all. We’re as alike as we are different.  But, oh how we laughed.  I loved how the swimmers made themselves at home.  I loved hearing the kids laugh.  I loved drawing with my nephew, watching Mini-Me look up to my niece (literally and figuratively) and just hanging out. I loved that Gardener took the time to share ideas about updating my kitchen and even showed my some things in Home Depot that could work. I even loved our 4.6 mile Thanksgiving morning hike – despite the fact I had the worst cough and laryngitis and could barely breathe. It wasn’t pretty but it was great.

I did miss our other siblings. We usually spend Thanksgiving at Patron and Beach’s house but if I was going to do something different – I did it right this year.  Both Neiman and the original Big Susan celebrate their birthdays around Thanksgiving.  I miss the former and know she’s only a phone call away…but the latter, well; I take comfort in knowing she and my mom were together. In matching robes and drinking black coffee. I miss my mom – I made her stuffing (though a slightly new version) but I know it would have tasted better if she had made it without the change.  I miss the early morning call from my father. I miss my stepfather telling me to add extra garlic to the turkey rub.  I remind myself that I’m lucky to miss such wonderful people.

Tonight, as Mini-me and I walked the dogs, she declared she had been really lucky this weekend. She said she had delicious Hanukkah and Thanksgiving dinners, she discovered she liked brussel sprouts (‘cause bacon makes everything better), got great presents, had fun with her cousins and aunt and uncle, learned to draw some new things, and went to some really cool places.  Very lucky my sweet Mini-me. We’re very lucky indeed.

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