Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today is Thanksgiving 2009. Tom and I were invited to the home of Ute and David Anderson, where we spent Thanksgiving last year, as well. I work with them and their autism assistance dog, Gracie and they are wonderful, wonderful people.

The evolution of how we spend our Thanksgiving, and I suppose, holidays in general, is interesting. When I was young all the men would be out deer hunting, and usually stay at my Uncle Ray's cabin, and on Thanksgiving everyone would join at my parent's home for a huge Thanksgiving feast. My mom is a great cook and we could count on dinner to include turkey, potatoes and gravy, cranberry salad (a delicious family recipe!), wild rice (REAL wild rice), many other side dishes and a host of pies for dessert. The house would be filled with relatives. Men would relax for a few hours, watch the football game on TV, and then head back to the cabin. Through the years, my parents even built an addition on the house, off the kitchen, to hold multiple tables for such feasts.

When I moved away, I came back for quite a few years to celebrate. Eventually, the cousins moved, we all married and holidays were split between other families. Little by little, the crowd dwindled. After my father in law was widowed and living alone in Milwaukee, we celebrated Thanksgiving with him. When he was still able to drive, he sometimes drove up to join us for buffet at the Paper Valley Hotel. Later, Tom and I and and his brother's family would travel to Milwaukee and take Joe out, or bring dinner in to prepare. When Joe passed away a huge void was left. Thanksgiving meant Joe. Now what? We thought we would probably just go to a buffet in town, but Ute and David invited us to a family dinner and I guess a new tradition was born.

Back home, the family now gathers at the home of my nephew, Nicholas. When dinner is at your parents, you assume you are invited, or at least, if you show up they will throw an extra plate on the table for you. Not so much when it is at someone else's house. I *think* if I had said I was interested to come up, I could have attended but there was no invitation extended. As events unfolded in the past two days, I would have had to rearrange that plan, anyway, after my sister un-friended me on Facebook. Shocking, isn't it? Apparently not as uncommon as you might think, as many of my FB friends responded to advise of their own family tribulations. I'm going to give up my age when I mention that I graduated high school in 1974. Without having to take off your shoes and socks, suffice it to say that is MANY years ago. I have lived apart from my family for more years than I was with them. For people who live near their families and stay regularly in touch, you have a different dynamic. I don't know if that is better or worse, but the fact is I have an existence separate from that of my family. They know peripheal events and information, but they aren't out on the dog training field with me on Saturdays. They aren't traveling to competitions and sharing tears of wins, losses, death and injury. They don't see movies with me, or go shopping for crafts, attending fairs and seminars. When I was still working as a police officer, many of the stories were withheld. They know very little about who I am now. In some respects, I can't blame my sister for wanting to keep me in a comfortable defination for her, which is leftover from high school. She commented, in her farewell post, "I forgot who I was dealing with." I wanted to ask "who is that person? who do you think I am?"
Because I don't think she has any idea. To strike a further blow, a niece and nephew also posted comments in a format known as "facebook fishing". Silly me. I thought they liked me. But again, they don't see me or know me, either, so will be influenced by the people closest to them. Still, it was a particularly hurtful couple of days.

My brother and sister and I are essentially strangers. We know a little about one another from half a century ago. We see each other perhaps once a year. These are not the people I spend my time with. In fact, sometimes I find myself wondering what there is to talk about, since we don't share the same interests. Or the same political afflilation, which makes it even more difficult. If they took a quiz, chances are they would know more personal information about a particular movie or TV star than me. And, I them.

So Thanksgiving this year is particularly bittersweet. A new line was drawn, separating me from the family of my past. It does make me much more grateful for my friends, however-- the people who do know me.

A few things I am grateful for include:
+for the God who has blessed us in so many ways, even though we fail to appreciate it at times
+ My dear husband, who sometimes drives me crazy, but is always there for me, even when I drive HIM crazy!
+ good friends who are there in the good times and bad
+my family. They might not like me, but they're family and I love them
+the love of good dogs! and a passion for training that has taken me across the country and to Europe, and put me in touch with so many terrific people
+ two parents, still living and in relatively good health who love me enough to drive 5 hours to bring me homemade chicken noodle soup!
+that my husband and I are both in pretty good health, considering. so what if I have rebuilt shoulders? rehab is going MUCH better this time, which is another reason to be grateful!
+no family deaths, illnesses or tragedies to mar the holiday. My heart goes out to those who experience such things
+this great house and property, where I can explore and dream
+every extra day with my Jinxy
+for the men and women in the armed forces and Law Enforcement who sacrifice and keep us safe
+for this free country. might not always like the leadership, but the system allows for change and the ability to disagree
+possibilities. always great things to dream of and plan for. the glass is always half full.

I love Christmas. I love the 24-7 radio stations playing holiday music. I love the specials, particularly classics such as "White Christmas", "Miracle on 34th Street", "Christmas in Connecticut" and "Rudolph". Yes, Rudolph. I don't know where or how we will spend Christmas. There is a chance we will visit my parents shortly before the holiday. I don't want to miss an opportunity to spend time with them, because they will not be here forever. So I will look at that glass, and do everything I can do to fill it up with love. To acknowledge that the people who want to be mean spirited toward me, have their own issues and are just angry that I don't fit in the box they prefer. I love them because they are family, but I can't make them like me. I am Thankful that we are still ALIVE and able to make repairs, if they so choose.

Be Thankful every day. God Bless you all.