Thanksgiving platters are cleaned and put away and leftovers have all been placed into plastic storage containers that Kelsey carted off this morning when she left for work at the crack of dawn. Leah caught a noon flight back to Chicago so she could save on another night of doggy boarding fees and Don and I simply had time to reflect on how lucky we truly are.
On Thanksgiving I typically make every family member go around the dinner table to share what they are grateful for over the past year. I skipped it last night because sometimes I feel like my “traditions” can wear a little thin on everyone else. Imagine my surprise when everyone shared separately that they missed my annoying prodding and hope that it gets worked back into the traditions for years to come. But it is really no surprise that my biggest gift is my family. I continue to marvel that I have two amazing daughters and that I’m still happily married to someone I have known for over three decades…that’s a lot to be grateful for.
Gratitude has been top of mind this holiday season as we are in the midst of helping my folks move to a community in Evanston, Ill. from their longtime home in Michigan where they can be closer to family, have access to more services (particularly medical), and be in a community where they can receive graduated services as they need them…likely something we should have had them do years ago. My parents are really struggling with leaving their home and I think the senior moving company I hired is having a hard time as well given that they don’t want to part with anything. No one seems interested in my offer to come up to help toss things—likely because they know I really will be relentless when it comes to proactive tossing of items that simply have no reason to make the move.
However, all of this was brought home even closer in recent weeks while watching the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. In what is now Paradise Lost, my sister-in-law’s parents built their home in Chico years ago and when her mother passed away, the home was a respite for her father. We got news a few weeks ago that her father was able to escape with his dog, car, and the clothes on his back. He lost all his belongings and memories on the 10th anniversary of his wife’s passing. Our collective hearts broke for him but were also filled with gratitude that he (at 86) and his pup made it out ok and are now spending time with family in Chicago.
When I realize that this is all that remains, it makes it even easier to try to share with my folks that stuff is simply stuff and the important things are the people we surround ourselves with. I will likely need to be reminded of that but those are sentiments I hope to hang on to in the year to come.