Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
Tomorrow is not the day to worry about my feisty, independent aunt with the beautiful hair and perfect posture who went into hospice yesterday, defeated and hunched over, and received her last rites today. Tomorrow is not the day to feel bitter because she is dying of lung cancer but never smoked a day in her life.
Tomorrow is the day to be thankful that I visited her two days ago, one day before she took such a terrible turn. Tomorrow is the day to be grateful that I’ve spent quality time with her during the past two years and that she has told things to me straight when no one else would.
Tomorrow is the day to be thankful that one of my children got to see his great aunt several weeks ago when she still felt well and appeared her vigorous and vivacious self. Tomorrow is the day to remember my son sharing barbecue pizza with her and telling her that he loves math, just like her. It is the day to remember her famous tins of homemade Christmas cookies and how she never met a child she didn’t love — and who didn’t love and adore her right back.
Tomorrow is not the day to dwell on my father’s other sister and how she will have open heart surgery in a week. It is not the day to worry about the health of a man in his seventies who is watching his two sisters struggle between life and death. It is the day to be thankful for this man in our lives — a man who worked his entire life selflessly to provide for his family, and who finally retired, only to spend all of his free time taking care of his daughter and providing for his grandchildren when their father falls short.
Tomorrow is not the day to worry about divorce finances and declines in standards of living, and looking for a job after staying home for years, and children leaving schools they love. Tomorrow is the day to be grateful we are in our family’s warm house, all together, with children running around and spilling milk and getting into a lot of trouble.
Tomorrow is not the day to wonder why God throws everything at us at once until the stress and utter unfairness of it all starts sitting in your chest like a physical pain and makes you start wondering if it has affected your health in insidious and permanent ways. Tomorrow is the day to search for gratitude and things to be thankful for. It’s the day to realize that no one can sail through life unscathed. And mostly, for me, tomorrow is the day to remember that this too shall pass. Nothing lasts forever, and as my aunt told me recently, “Unlike me, you are about to turn a corner. Your divorce will eventually be over. And you’ll hardly remember it in a few years.”
So tomorrow is the day to be thankful for happy and healthy children, cousins and grandparents, snowflakes, mashed potatoes and stuffing and hot gravy, crackling fireplaces and green-and-red M&Ms in jars, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and knock-knock jokes, a warm house and great books, funny uncles and creative aunts, football and fantasy football, Christmas music before we all get tired of it, big California cabernets with apple and blueberry pies, the puppy down the street, silly dancing and LEGOs and Zengo, and the hope that we might be able to scrape together enough snow to make a snowman before it’s all over.
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you, God, for everything!
—by Edith Rutter Leatham