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Giving Thanks

I looked around at my extended family as we were talking, planning, strategizing. It has been the routine every Monday morning at our coffeeshop. I meet with friends, along with our many children and we chit-chat, catch up as well as plan our futures together. We had just had a lovely Sunday the day before, church and then lunch together. Our gathering was so beautiful as we leaned on each other for support. There are so many things I am grateful for in this season of life. I like to take time to be thankful for every gift God has given. Friends, family, a home, healthy children. So many gifts to be grateful for.

I love this season of Thanksgiving. Of course, it’s all about childhood memories of special family favorites, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and expressing gratitude. I tend to get sentimental since it’s one of my favorite holidays. It’s a time to take stock of all we have and give thanks. Practicing gratitude seems to be the trend now. Being mindful of all our blessings is something that should happen everyday.

My father is struggling with the last stages of Alzheimer’s in a nursing home far from me and since my mom’s passing 22 years ago, I don’t take anything for granted. My kids never knew my mother and had very little relationship with my ailing father. That’s always been hard, bittersweet. Every year, my brothers try to replicate our grandmother’s special stuffing. It’s a joke that we always laugh about because it never seems to quite cut the mustard. We reminisce about old family stories while our kids dutifully listen. It’s all a part of what makes the holiday special.

Recently my daughter, Ellie, wanted me to watch the Disney Pixar movie, “Coco” with her. She loves movies that make you cry. I do not. By the end of the movie, I was bawling so hard, it hurt. It is such a beautiful and poignant movie about remembering our loved ones that have gone on before us. Miguel, a young boy and aspiring guitar player, whose family has a deep hatred for music, tries to find answers of his great Grandfather. This leads his search to the entrance to Tierra De Muertos, the Great Beyond, where all people go on to live if they are remembered well by family in this life. It is there the boy not only discovers his family's legacy, but his search leads him to an unexpected truth in this story about love, hate, death, music, betrayal -- and most of all, family.

So with all of that said, I have come to the realization that in life’s ups and downs, twists and turns, family appears in the most unusual and lovely ways. In the little elderly neighbor across the street. In the young thirty-somethings that have need for patriarch/matriarchs and community. In those that have known, loved and supported you for 20 years. None may have the same blood flowing through their veins but it’s beautiful when family become your friends and friends become your family. Give thanks this week for all you have and remember those that have gone on. You'll be glad you did.

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