Gratitude is Best Learned

Sandy KeathleyToday Blogger Sandy Keathley of Sandyisms shares this post with us on our November theme, gratitude.

As soon as the brisk, cooler air hits the leaves on the trees they start turning to gold, yellow, and red and my flowers bloom; I am ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas to come. I have always loved holidays, all the excitement of getting to see family and friends. Childhood memories of going to my grandparents and seeing my cousins always bring warm memories.

Dad's mum

Being a Type A personality and a little OCD, everything had to be PERFECT in my home for the holidays; all the food, the decorations, everyone had to act just right, dress just right and we had to pull off the perfect holiday. I was horrible (I admit it).

However, three years ago I tragically lost my only sister in February. She had fallen backwards down a flight of stairs and had so many broken bones they stopped counting them. She was paralyzed and on life support. As I walked my dad into her hospital room he saw her and fell. I was able to get a chair under him just before he hit the floor. The evening before she passed; he literally stood by her bed, all night. He had lost his firstborn child.

In August we found out that Dad had cancer. He had probably had it for a while, yet didn’t tell us. After my sister, he had given up. I sat beside him for his last fifteen days on hospice in his own home. I would not trade those days for anything, as heartbreaking as they were.

He was my hero, and I had always been a daddy’s girl. He was a man of strength, a WWII veteran; he never thought of himself and always helped those in need. During his last days he never complained and continued to try and help us figure out how mom was going to get on without him. He passed on Sept 24. A piece of my heart went with him. I now wear his thumb print in sterling silver around my neck.

It has been a hard three years, but more than anything it has made me be more grateful for what I do have. I no longer worry about how things should be.

This year at Thanksgiving, just like last year, we will have TACOS for dinner. I no longer push all the traditions on the family. They voted for tacos, and that is what we will have. They will be served on paper plates, and we will use red Solo cups for our drinks. It will be a time of enjoying our favorite food, laughing, joking and having Mom with us so she doesn’t have to sit home and think about what we have lost.

Now I have my mom, husband, daughter, and grandson, with my son and his new bride. (Dad would have been very proud; he got to meet her and told my son not to let this one get away).

I have decided that Thanksgiving is just that — a time to show thanks and gratitude for what we have; to love and enjoy each other with calm and peace.

Christmas will be the celebration of Christ’s birth, and we will have a few traditions — tree and decorations, I don’t know yet what they will vote for dinner. It is usually ham, mashed potatoes, and corn; if that it is, so be it. We have each other for another year.

About Sandy: “I retired the first of this year, after 16 years of technical writing and illustration for aviation. I love to read, blog, take photos, and scrapbook.” Visit her blog, Sandyisms.

2 thoughts on “Gratitude is Best Learned

  1. Erin O'Donnell says:

    This will be our 5th holiday season without my dad. I miss him a ton even though he got a little crabby with the house full of people (it’s a BIG family). I am deeply grateful for all the holiday memories we made together. Now that he’s gone and our mother no longer lives in the house we all grew up in, our family’s holiday traditions are changing. It’s both sad and liberating at the same time.

    I hope those tacos are the best you’ve ever had! Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

  2. Diana Staresinic-Deane says:

    This post really, really touched my heart. Thinking about all of the chairs that now stay empty at the holidays in our family (in the 12 years we’ve been married, we’ve lost two mothers, a grandmother, an uncle, and a cousin), it occurred to me that the experience of Christmas doesn’t irrevocably change when you stop believing in Santa, but rather the first time that loss meshes with the previously pure joy of the holidays.

    Bravo to you and your family for finding a way to celebrate each other and to willingly trade in the work of the holidays for more time to rekindle your connection with each other. Wishing you a wonderful taco-filled Thanksgiving.

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