Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ch-ch-changes--Thanksgiving, Hope, Life

Over the years I've spent Thanksgiving in a lot of different places with a lot of different people. 

There were the Thanksgivings as a kid where I would excitedly watch the clock and wait for my grandparents to arrive from Alabama. We would eat and eat and watch football and play and talk. I remember falling asleep in sleeping bags on the floor with my sister and brother and cousins listening to the grown ups talk. There were a few Thanksgivings after my parents' divorce spent meeting and eating with new people that would be my step-relatives, and then eventually my ex-step-relatives. Thanksgivings spent in O'Hare Airport Gate B 22 with my brother and sister missing our connecting flight  going home to Michigan from my dad's house in Nebraska. There was that one Thanksgiving when I was 20 I spent in Amsterdam with friends, that was a good one. I also spent several Thanksgivings serving turkey at soup kitchens in Pittsburgh. A couple Thanksgivings I spent with friends who had no place to go like me. Years later my first child was born a few weeks before Thanksgiving and I remember being overwhelmed with joy and hormones and swollen breasts at my in-laws for turkey dinner with my newborn in my arms. There was the Thanksgiving night I spent with my sister in the ER waiting room after my mom broke her neck falling down the stairs. There was the Thanksgiving we forgot to defrost the Turkey like characters on a predictable sitcom. 

Thanksgiving 1980-something. 


Me with new friends and wearing a beret in Amsterdam.

My picture of Amsterdam that looks 150 years old. Ha!
Two weeks as a mom not having a clue what I was doing. 


What a turkey. Oh my god, what a cute little turkey JT was.

One constant has been change. I haven't always gone to the same place with the same people and had the same meal or the same happy or sad experience. I should be better at change than I am.

The world feels crazier than normal right now and changing so fast. I've never really been someone who has been that affected by, or to be really honest that compassionate about, those "trigger alerts." But Jesus, I get it so much more now. I feel like the entire year has been a trigger. This administration. Social media. Things I thought I believed but now question and vice-versa. My kids growing up. Losing control. Setting boundaries. Being firm. Being understanding. Balancing compassion and fear and strength and vulnerability. Getting enough sleep. Wishing I could do more. Wishing I didn't feel so much. Wishing everything didn't feel like it was constantly changing all the time so fast. But also grateful for some of the changes. Holy shit. Ahhhhh.

I wish I had someplace to go that I 've always gone this Thanksgiving. I want a constant that feels comforting and safe.  

As usual in times of turmoil I turn to my beloved pop culture. I watch movies like Planes, Trains & Automobiles. I love that movie. I watch Young & the Restless and General Hospital. I delight in the fact that Victor and Nicki are still fighting and loving and trying to get the family together on Y & R.  And that the Quartermaines are still trying to figure out what the hell is going on with Jason on GH. The same things I was watching in 1987!  My comfort zone.

But as I look back on the years and think about this year and Thanksgiving, I am reminded of other constants. There was always laughter. Even in the emergency room that crazy Thanksgiving my mom broke her neck, my sister and I found things to laugh about. Like how the first person my mother asked for when she woke up in the hospital was Justin Timberlake. 

Another constant...there has always been somebody. Whether it was friends or family, my babies or strangers in the airport, there have been people to connect with and talk to and be with. For that I am grateful.

Every Thanksgiving I can remember has been filled with some kind of hope. Hope that the turkey will defrost. Hope that everyone comes to visit. Hope that everyone will get along. Hope that everyone recovers. The thing about getting older is that you've been through enough to know there's another side to things. Even though the world is making me uncomfortable and tense and confused, as I look back I see that we've been here before historically and it's led to great change. I feel hopeful that we can figure this shit out--our government, our communities, our families, parenting teenagers, disagreeing with love, respecting each other, finances, my grandma's dressing recipe, global warming and all the rest of it.

I'm grateful for laughter and hope and perspective. And that there are soap operas that are still on TV. 

Happy Thanksgiving.




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