Last year at about this time I shared a long-ish memory about another Thanksgiving celebration in the year before last. Though you wouldn't know it as I started the story, but we had a fantastic time with my in-laws. (You kinda had to read my post through to the end.)
I won't recount the whole thing, but as I started telling it, I grumbled -- as I'm prone to do. (I'm akin to a spoiled-stomp-my-feet-on-the-ground-and-walk-in-circles-and-pout-punk-brat sometimes, I really am) -- about missing my side of the family. (See? "me, me, me.")
GOING to Thanksgiving
If I wasn't grumbling about GOING to Thanksgiving to someplace other than with my siblings, I was griping about GOING to Thanksgiving through the traffic, or moaning about GOING to Thanksgiving where the weather was something other than what I had hoped, or just otherwise GOING to Thanksgiving.
The Gift of Time
It wasn't until after we arrived that I actually allowed myself some time. Just...time.
Time to not have any expectations or perceived remorse about "what could have been" and to simply allow things to just "be." That time allowed me to share in the stories from my brother-in-law, gave me time to see how my wife and her sister re-connected after a lengthy time apart, time to share stories with my mother-in-law, and time to laugh, time to reconnect with my niece and nephew.
I remember my niece and nephew challenged me to a race around the corner to the local park. I was game. First we raced to "the corner of the building." Of course, the trick to winning any race is to "make up" which corner marked the winner's line. My niece and nephew were too green to understand why I kept shouting "I win!"... but they're quick studies. (Hmm...or maybe they understood more than they let on.)
Getting a Clue
Anyway, after I won the to-the-corner-of-the-building race, they won the to-the-little-tree race; then the to-the-swing-set sprint. By the time we had completed the to-the-slide winner's cup, I was fully engaged. It happened gradually. Somewhere between the laughs and smiles in the living room and the bantering at the swing set, I finally gave up GOING to Thanksgiving.
I can't remember which one of us had our butt firmly planted in our claims to "my swing," but I do remember the "let's do it again" gleam in the eyes of my niece and nephew. And, somewhere in the middle of all that the rest of the family had evidently also found their way to the park. The sisters were engaged in close sibling revelry, my brother-in-law and mother-in-law were laughing (at me?), while I was about to enter another race with the kids.
In the middle of all that, the recognition finally clicked. The whole time I was busily rounding the bases of GOING to Thanksgiving, I had forgotten to allow the spirit of GIVING THANKS to come to me.
And, again, I took time. Time to look around and think... Thank You.
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