Here in Ireland there is no Thanksgiving day. It is thought of as a very American occasion. Christmas on the other hand, is a huge deal, with most workplaces shut for at least ten days. Family arrive home and there are celebrations and arguments in equal measure. All our focus is directed towards preparing and talking about it, and nearer the time whinging about it, and even blaming America for over commercialising it.( We are brilliant here in Ireland for blaming everyone else).
However today as I sat at my reader feed, reading blog after blog giving thanks, or not wanting to give thanks, I couldn’t but have an opinion. So here it is.
This past year for me, was a year of goodbyes. Today, for the last Thursday morning, a friend and I went to my old pals house to spend the morning with him. He leaves Ireland in four days to live in England. He was subdued and not his usual jovial self. His leaving weighing heavily on his mind. He told me he was ‘knackered’, and indeed in the week he appeared to have aged. However as the time ticked by he couldn’t help himself, and with some encouragement from us he was soon in mid flow once more, regaling us with past stories of a man on the run to mention just one, and bringing new characters vividly to life. By the time we were leaving, he was beginning to look like himself once more.
Before I took my leave I gave him the printed photos, which we had taken of him with us last week. His eyes lit up, and although his eyesight is very poor, he seemed to be able to see them well enough. He gave a big laugh remembering our photo session, and was particularly impressed with the photo of himself and my friend together. Then all of a sudden I realised his laughter had turned to tears. He began to go from photo to photo, stroking his fingers over our faces, and remarking how much he would miss us, or if you want to know what he really said, in his soft kerry accent, ‘To think I will never again see these faces, or chat and laugh with ye’. I looked at him and I couldn’t help a few tears falling. I gave him a big hug, and tried to save the moment, speaking of how lovely it would be for him to get to know his grandchildren, and to help make them a little more Irish. This notion seemed to do the trick and he brightened up. I took my opportunity to leave, assuring him I’d be back for a quick call tomorrow.
Since leaving however my heart has been heavy. You know those days when you just can’t shake off the blues. So I decided to sit and read a few blogs and what did I get? ‘Thanksgiving’. Well I can assure you I was not feeling very thankful.
However since reading, I have been thinking about thanksgiving a good bit all afternoon, and I have had a huge turnaround. I have in fact a monumental amount in my life to be thankful for. This time last year the young warrior, Daniel, was arriving home. In fact is is almost exactly this minute last year, that my friend and I waited impatiently staring out a window, for an ambulance to arrive, bringing him ‘home’. In hindsight I am so thankful that he survived the journey, and was well enough to know he was home. Thankful also that his pain was kept under control and he seemed to have no worries or fears. His family got to spend two days with him, and even more importantly two nights, where they slept on, in and around his bed with him, saying the most heartbreaking, but perfect of goodbyes.
If he had to die this was the very best it could be.
In my own life today I said goodbye to ‘Thursdays with Denis’, but I was so fortunate to have met him, and spent so much time in his company. Personally in my own life I am lucky, I have a husband of many years who is still my very greatest pal, my strength and support, and someone I love dearly, even when I hate him. I have a mother who is alive and well and continues to be an influence in my life. I have friends many would kill for, and I have a life I love. However, above all this, I have four healthy happy children, who this weekend I will be able to hug and to hold, to laugh with and chastise. As a mother I know I am so very lucky, and today I do feel grateful. The past year has taught me my children’s health is not something I should take for granted.
So today I will join my American friends, and say to you all sincerely, ‘Happy Thanksgiving’, for indeed it is important to take the time to give thanks, and even more importantly to take the time to feel thankful.