Well……another holiday is upon us. Thanksgiving. The time of food, family and being thankful. It also marks the beginning of some difficult moments for those of us that do not have the physical presence of our loved ones…..especially our children. Thanksgiving in my family when the girls were young were spent at Jeff’s sister’s house, Barbara or at his Mom’s in Lewisville, Texas. As my children grew to adults and then married and had children of their own, it meant sharing holidays with John and I, their husband’s family, and seeing their Dad and Lisa. That also meant they were eating several meals in one day! I usually had the early meal and as the years went on we tried different things. One year we had brunch! A very non-traditional meal for this day. Some years it was a full blown Thanksgiving meal where I cooked for days until my feet and legs hurt so bad from standing! Some years it was ordering a smoked turkey. Then there was the year that I made Alton Brown’s brine/turkey recipe (which is wonderful by the way!), but it calls to cook the turkey for the first 30 minutes or so at a very high heat and it involved having oil on the turkey which meant a kitchen filled with smoke! LOL! And for two years we were in Washington D.C. and spent one of those Thanksgiving holidays at Plymouth Rock, MA!
Last year was the beginning of redefining the holidays without Elizabeth and the boys. I wouldn’t say I have it figured out yet. It is still a work in progress. To be honest, my goal is to make it through the day. Heck, I just want to make it through the next month. How’s that for honest! Anyone else feel this way? I believe I am not alone in this. So, this year, we will travel to San Antonio to spend it with John’s Mom and niece. Jennifer and Lauren will spend it with their families. I think we all are working on transforming these holidays as we continue to live out our lives separate from Elizabeth and the boys. And I’ve come to the conclusion that “different” is fine. My wound of grief provides me with a tenderness to others that are traveling this same road as I……or to those that walk among us that have no family to share a meal with. I’ve learned on this journey that sometimes it’s better to do something totally different than trying to re-create what can never be until we are all together in heaven one day.
In my dining room this Thanksgiving, there is a chair. It’s empty on purpose. It is at the table as a remembrance to honor the memories, their physical lives that are no longer with us. The butterflies symbolic of their new life in heaven. In the Diem house we honor my daughter Elizabeth and her sons Fischer, Benjamin, and baby Hayes. We also remember John’s grandson Cohen. I like to think that in heaven, there is a gigantic table (round so everyone can see each other) with the most amazing food where all of our loved ones gather. One day I will join that table!
And as difficult as these holidays can be, as my favorite worship song says:
The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
And on this day, I do lift my hands to the one that blessed me with so much! So, on this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who bought and paid for me at such a heavy price by dying on a cross. Because of that, I have been redeemed and I know who holds me in the palm of his hand. I am thankful for his grace and his tender mercies. I am thankful for the blessings he has placed in my life. I am thankful that one day I will meet him and there will be no more tears!
These days as sorrowful as they are at times are but a “vapor” as the Bible says and I believe in all my heart that God isn’t finished with me, Jennifer or Lauren in telling this story of Elizabeth and the boys.
So, as you gather around the table this holiday, don’t sweat the small stuff. This can be a stressful time for families. And as the last 15 months have taught me, it’s all small stuff……..it really is. Hug everyone a little more, tell them you love them…….and always, always hold on to the one that will make it all anew one day. We do not know what tomorrow brings. Life is short. Sometimes really short. May God place people in your lives that have no place to spend Thanksgiving. May you have the gift of mercy and grace to invite them to your family table just as we have been invited to the Savior’s table.
I ask for your grace and mercy this holiday season. For those families that have empty chairs at the table, please bring them your peace and comfort as only you can do. Send us “winks” from above as reminders of our children’s lives and that they are safe in your care until we join them one day. For those that have family members that are in harms way keeping us safe, I ask for your protection and a special touch of your mighty love. Thank you for your Son and the promise of everlasting life. Amen.
May each of you have a blessed Thanksgiving. Wherever you are, whatever your circumstance, make the most of this day. I know I am.