Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

Over the years, our Thanksgiving traditions have evolved.

As a young girl through my teens, I remember with great fondness celebrating Thanksgiving at my Aunt Edwina's. All my cousins and I had the best time playing games, listening to music, watching the parade.

Once I had a family of my own, we would travel between grandparents homes and our own. It was sometimes difficult; four little ones can be a handful to bundle up and travel from one New England state to another. But, the moments added to our memories were priceless.

As my daughters got older, we would celebrate at home with guests, filling the house with laughter and fun.

Since moving out to Western Massachusetts, our celebrations have been much quieter. Roger and I often travel to the Peace Pagoda in Leverett to meditate on how blessed we are. When we were first out here, my daughters and Roger's daughter would come with boyfriends/husbands in tow. Our tiny home was filled to overflowing with love, good food and music.

In the past four years, grandchildren have added a new twist to the old theme. Remembering the difficulties of traveling with little ones during the holidays, I have allowed my daughters the freedom to begin their own traditions without having to travel the distance to my home. Consequently, this means that we usually do not celebrate the holiday on the holiday, but sometime in the weeks after. My feeling is that it isn't about the date, it is about being together.

Thanksgiving 2008 at Roger's Mom's home

This year, we will have an international celebration. Roger's daughter is bringing a friend from Kenya home and two of my students from India will come, also, to share our table. Roger's Mom will be with us as we give thanks for all our blessings, but, not on Thursday, as so many others, but on Friday, as that is the day we can all be together. As I said, it is not about the date, it is about being together.

Holiday traditions...thanksgiving traditions, specifically, should not be cast in stone or iron. Rather, they should be like a gentle stream that travels through life, gentle moving and bending to conform to the terrain.

May your Day of Thanks be filled with memories and blessings that will travel with you through the year ahead.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today - Memories

Momma, Daddy and Me - 1953

Today would have been my parent's 57th anniversary. The joke was that it made it easier for Dad to remember. Dad, you see, was a sailor.

Dad always observed Veteran's Day. He was a member of both the Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. As far as I know, he never missed a Veteran's Day memorial. Yet, he seldom spoke of his experiences as a wounded survivor of WWII.

In fact, in all the years before his death, I only remember him telling three stories about the years he spent in the Navy. Two had to do with kamikaze attacks and the other was about the liberation of a tiny South Pacific island - Pohnpei.

Dad served in both the North Atlantic and the South Pacific. He went into the service as a blond haired, blue-eyed boy, according to his enlistment records and returned a black haired, green-eyed man. His finger prints had to sent to Washington before he was released from service because they did not believe he was the same person.

It is my understanding that the ship he served on in the North Atlantic was terminally damaged. I am not sure if it happened during D-day or some time after, but he was sent to the South Pacific after that.

In the South Pacific, he served on the U.S.S. Hyman, a destroyer. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet some of his ship mates at a reunion in Boston. The bond these men have is stronger and deeper than family.

Today, as I remember both my parents and all the men and women who have served this country, I will say both a Prayer of Thanksgiving for all those who served to allow us to live the lives we live and a Prayer of Petition asking that those serving in danger overseas will soon be returned to their families, safe and sound.