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The gift of gratitude

December 1, 2008

by Jenni Sebora

My children counted down the days until Thanksgiving. It wasn’t because they were off of school for a few days (although that helps) or it wasn’t because Christmas is staggering closely behind (although that affects the eagerness too).

It was and is about traditions shared with people we love and care about.

My 4-year old asked everyday for almost two weeks prior, “How many days until Thanksgiving?” As if this consistent questioning would hurry the days along. She couldn’t wait to go to her relatives’ homes.

My other daughter shares in this enthusiasm. She loves seeing her cousins and aunts and uncles, and just plain hanging out with them. There is security and comfort in sharing time with extended family. It makes one feel “cozy,” as my daughter puts it.

My son, however, always enjoys getting up and watching the Thanksgiving parade, as well as traversing to see the relatives.

All three of my kidss love turkey and pumpkin pie.

There is great anticipation in the awaiting of these treasured traditions for both young and the old. I, too, got, and get, just as excited about Thanksgiving and for the same reasons they do.

There is something very special about this holiday. It is really about putting all of our daily hecticities aside; joining with special people in our lives, whether it be family, friends or others, in the pure enjoyment of each other’s company and companionship; and sharing food, conversation and memories.

Food, family, friends, fellowship is what makes this a truly “bountiful” holiday. This gathering of friendship is cause of thankfulness in and of itself.

At this special holiday time, may we all continue to remember the bounties that we have each received. Even among these hard economic times, may we find reasons for laughter and gratitude and graciousness. May we extend our own bounties to others around us as well.

It has been said that for every negative that occurs in our lives, there are 20 positives; we just have to make sure that we acknowledge them and count them.

This thanksgiving was different for our family. It was the first Thanksgiving without the presence of my mom. As I have shared her story with our family in past articles, my mom passed away almost three months ago – actually on the first day of school, which I will never forget because I am a teacher.

The last nine years my mother had been living with us in what one may call a “mother-in-law’s suite.” We called it “grandma’s area.” Actually for the first five years of that daily presence in our lives, my father lived with her, and us, too. He passed away about five years ago.

Our family is doing well, but we miss grandma. As everyone does, our family gets caught up in the daily routine and hectic life schedules, and we forget to take a breath sometimes. When I do take a “breath,” I will find my mind suddenly moving to thoughts of my mom, and a renewed realization she is no longer here, and tears usually come to my eyes.

They are good, healthy tears. My relationship with my mother was one of daily contact, communication and sharing and sometimes just sharing of the daily routine. But she was a part of that routine for nine years. It has been a change in our family to not have grandma here with us.

Of course, the holidays always bring one to thoughts of loved ones gone, and no longer part of the traditional holiday festivities. But at this holiday time, our family has much to be thankful for – for the special place grandma and grandpa had in our lives for so many years. This place is now in our hearts to be shared whenever we retrieve those memories.

Pam Fiecke, a journalist in this paper, gave my twin brother and his extended family, including us, a special gift when our mother died. It was the gift of four candles and a beautiful poem.

Four Candles for You

The first candle represents our grief.

The pain of losing you is intense.

It reminds us of the depth of our love for you.

This second candle represents our courage.

To confront our sorrow, to comfort each other.

This third candle we light in your memory.

For the times we laughed, the times we cried, the caring and joy you gave us.

This fourth candle we light for our love.

We light this candle that your light will always shine.

As we enter this holiday season and share this day of remembrance with our family and friends.

We cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you.

We thank you for the gift your living brought to each of us.”

– In loving memory of:

Iris Clara Elizabeth Schultz

Sept. 2, 2008

Beautiful. We have a lot to be thankful for.

May anyone who has lost a loved one, bring memories of this loved one to their hearts at this holiday time. May we be able to find thankfulness for the gift that our loved one brought to our lives.