Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

I may or may not post tomorrow since it is Thanksgiving and I'll be busy in the kitchen before heading up to Des Plaines, Illinois to be with family.

It might sound a bit cliche, but many of us will probably at some point during tomorrow's dinner, talk about what we are thankful for this year. I just thought I'd put mine here this year as much of it relates to my family history. For without my family, my friends and their influences I wouldn't be at this point in my life with this set of feelings, this set of perspectives, this set of wisdom.

I am thankful for all those that went before me. That they persevered and scratched out a life when they landed in America. From Jan Pootman who arrived in 1661 in Albany, New York, to Matthew McGinnes who came from Ireland and became a citizen in 1888 to my mother-in-law who arrived from Greece in the 1950s. They have taught me that nothing should be taken for granted and that the world doesn't owe you a thing. You make the world you live in.

I am thankful for the strong, independent women in my life - both the dead and the living - who decided that they weren't going to accept life at face value or the way society told them to. These women were fairly conservative, mostly poor, and didn't see themselves as suffragettes or feminists or women libbers. They just had an inate sense of what was right. And did what they had to do to give their children more than just food and shelter. They gave the gifts of opportunity, laughter, hugs, shoulders to cry on, examples of how to live, faith, wisdom and love.

I am thankful for the men in my life - despite the fact that they have often left all too soon. Grandfathers, fathers and brothers who started families but didn't stick around to see how they finished. These men have taught me how not to behave, how not to treat women and children, and how not to handle responsibility.

I am thankful that I live in a time and place where I can be who I am. And I can accept others as they are. And I can voice an opinion. And I can listen to the views of others.

I am thankful for my partner. We've endured quite a bit in eight short years - job losses, accidents, a cross-country move, harassment from a neighbor. I would follow him anywhere. He is my rock. He is my beshert. With him joys are doubled, burdens cut in half. And I am thankful for his family here in Chicago that accepts me as just one more daughter-in-law or sister-in-law. I hope to give to them as much as they've given to me this past year.

I am thankful for memories, anecdotes, and wisdom passed down through the years in my family. For "The Box" with its photos, diaries and other treasures that I sort through every week and try to catalog.

I am thankful for my new family of fellow genea-bloggers, how they inspire me, how they challenge me, how they make me think. They are more than just a group of memory gatherers: they animate facts such as birth dates and death dates; they bring to life how their ancestors lived and loved; and they often share the personal, from reflections to feelings, from past to present.

I am thankful that I am not attached to the material, to things. I intend to leave this world they way I came in - with nothing. But I intend to give back to those that have given.

Finally, I am thankful for the journey that is and has been Mom. Where we've traveled, especially in the past eight years, is not a trip you'll ever find in a guide book. Despite all that's been written about Alzheimer's Disease, especially early-onset, no guide book exists, for each journey is unique. I can never say thank you enough not just to the woman who brought me into this world but to someone from whom I learned life's lessons. Mom gave me my work ethic, my sensitivity, my love of learning. We didn't always agree but she also let me know that was okay too. She also taught me how to say, "Thank You."

Remember on Friday, November 23rd - more information about how to post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories! Have a great holiday, travel safe if you have to travel, and tell someone, "Thank You."


Apple said...

This was beautiful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Chery said...

Thomas - very heartfelt, honest, and appreciated by us all. Happy Thanksgiving...

Lee said...

Lovely! Thank you for sharing your thankfulness with us!