How one celebrates

We met on Zoom at 7:30 p.m.. Katie, our eldest daughter, organized the family gathering, thinking that by this time of day all of us would have eaten the major meal of this special day.

Four rectangles filled our computer screens with smiling faces. Parents in the foreground. Offspring lurking behind them, a few of them wearing expressions of dutiful compliance.

Missing was the one person who, for more years than we would care to count devoted most of her hours on this day in her kitchen making sure that by early evening we all would be fed a delicious feast centered around a roasted turkey and featuring her special cranberry-orange relish on the side, keeping company with the stuffing and mashed potatoes.

My darling Betsy is Mom to our three daughters, Grandma to our six exceptional young adult grandchildren. My adored bride couldn’t join our family’s Zoom gathering. She resides in an assisted living home, unable to walk after a lifetime of polio finally took away the strength in her one good leg. Dementia steals her memory and leaves her confused sometimes. She doesn’t have a computer or smart phone. Such devices bewilder and frustrate her.

Thanksgiving, we Americans are fond of saying, is about family, loving groups that reunite when and where possible for this special weekend. In my younger days I spent several years as a bachelor and now in my 80s, again find myself living alone. My experience authorizes me to assert that the loving family circle depicted around the table in television commercials is not available to everyone. Not on Thanksgiving or at any other time.

I love the ways our daughters try their best to keep our family connected. They live in other cities now, but they take turns calling their Mom on the phone every day and check with me nearly as often. Occasional visits to Mom and me are limited by Covid-19, of course, but we’ve managed a few, and they provide precious moments. Until the pandemic, we all managed to gather in one place for a gift exchange during Christmas week. The pandemic will put a halt to that this year, but we’re thinking of another Zoom gathering for gift-opening. How could we include Mom/Betsy in this fun?

Yesterday I got to enjoy a delicious turkey dinner cooked lovingly by a daughter who drove 66 miles each way to deliver the goodies to me. Plenty of leftovers and some tempting turkey soup reside in the fridge for future meals.

For some of us, life forces us to change the way we celebrate holidays. For others, Thanksgiving and other special days remain the way they’ve always been. My life is good. Many wonderful experiences and relationships fill it with joy beyond description. I am filled with thanks for all of them.  

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