Daddy went home to be with Jesus in April. Mama passed on in December of 2016. This will be my first Thanksgiving and Christmas without either one of them on this earth with me.
I thought I was doing ok. I’m hosting Thanksgiving for over a dozen family members tomorrow. But I sat all morning with no motivation to prepare.
I love Thanksgiving. I love having my family over. But this is a tender time. And I mostly want to cuddle up with a blanket and have a cry.
I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people in our country right now dealing with similar feelings. It’s hard to enter the holidays after losing a loved one. It’s hard even when a loved one is still with you, when they don’t know you anymore.
Something about these special days, and all the memories they evoke, wring our souls and emotions come out that we didn’t even know were there.
I talked to my husband this afternoon about my struggles to dive into the work of Thanksgiving. Part of me felt like canceling. He gave me wise advice. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “It’s okay to have your emotions. But you’re parents valued Thanksgiving and this is a way to honor them.”
I hadn’t actually thought of that. But it’s true. They invested in it and enjoyed it. They would want us to keep the traditions going and keep the family ties strong.
And then he said, “Call Amy (our daughter) and get her help.” She was planning to come help anyway, but scheduling a time to start was good. So I called her and then took a little nap. And then when she arrived it spurred me on to start. It was a comfort to have her alongside me in the kitchen.
I mixed up Mama’s Colorado Salad in her old Tupperware mixing bowl. And I thought about how we always had it at Thanksgiving. Amy worked on the sweet potatoes and I cooked the cranberries. And as the berries bubbled and popped on the stove, a sense of peace settled in alongside all the emotions.
This isn’t an easy Thanksgiving. But, God willing, it can still be a good one. Mama and Daddy left us a legacy of love. Our house will be crowded with children and brothers and grandchildren tomorrow.
The scent of turkey roasting will stir a lifetime of memories. The fire will crackle in the fireplace. We will eat until we are too full and talk and laugh and sing until the guitar players’ fingers are too worn out. And maybe some of our emotions will seep out as tears.
But I’ll have grand babies to hold. And I will rock them and thank God for them and all His generous blessings. And I will thank God that I had parents that taught me about Jesus and loved us all so well.
God is gentle with those of us who are mourning. I pray that His presence is a comfort to you this season and that His tender mercies bless you and yours.
May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving as you rest in His love.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1