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Finding reasons to be thankful can be difficult during the holiday season.
I have never been a big fan of the holidays, even when my now 16-year-old daughter was a toddler and excited by the big family gatherings. Although I have never had a terrible holiday experience, I don’t remember a time when the season did not make me sad.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t set fire to Christmas decorations or intentionally crank the oven up to inferno in a diabolical plan to turn a 16-pound turkey into a pile of ash. But I do tend to boycott the family functions or drop by for only as long as I feel is necessary to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.
But this year, I have been having more trouble than normal putting on a happy face when strangers or acquaintances ask if I have big plans for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Truth be told, I would prefer to boycott the holiday season entirely, possibly by crawling into bed and hibernating like a grizzly bear.
Tomorrow will be my second Thanksgiving without my mom, Deborah Bauman. Mom died Jan. 29, 2007 following a two-year battle with stage 4A cervical cancer. Although she was far from Betty Crocker and incredibly tight with a penny, she loved celebrating Christmas. From the Christmas tree she created with a couple strands of lights, an IV pole and a silver metal walker, to the animated fiber optic villages, she was all about Christmas. The excitement in her voice when she talked about the latest Christmas décor find overshadowed the fact that it was normally tacky, gaudy or outright outlandish. The more bells, whistles and lights the better for my mom.
So as I drive down streets and see Christmas decorations already being placed in front yards and on rooftops, all I can think about is how much I miss my mom’s festive, LSD-flashback-style displays.
Recently as I drove home from work, an overly festive front yard display brought a terrible case of the blues upon my soul. But trying to put my therapy lessons to use, I began to list reasons I should be thankful.
First, I still have family. Although my mom may be gone, I still have my Dad thanks to some wonderful physicians. Dad suffered a heart attack 18 months ago that doctors said would have been fatal if Oldham County paramedics had not responded so quickly. So for my dad, I am thankful.
And I still have my daughter. Although she has still not gotten over losing her grandmother, and likely never will, she has been begun to heal and is becoming more like the silly, clumsy, caring, beautiful, intelligent child she has always been. Her life will never be the same without her Mommaw, but she has nearly 15 years of memories to hold on to and cherish
And I have my sister. Although many in the extended family worried she would lose touch with reality when we lost our mother, I’ve found that she truly is the stronger sister. I will always be in her debt for the words she spoke at my mom’s memorial service, which made everyone who knew Deb laugh and cry. In her time of extreme grief, she was able to stand before a packed church and tell how the smell of Colgate toothpaste and Cover Girl foundation will always be Mom.
And finally, there are the countless other family members and friends who put up with me. To my best friend who offers to pull a “Thelma and Louise” with me when the going gets tough, to my aunt who understands you don’t need a reason to just have a “bad day” and a good cry. To my dad’s “special friend” who has brought some happiness back into his life and helps keep his 16-year-old alter ego under control and my friend and co-worker who can be counted on to laugh at my problems and mistakes, I am in their debt for reminding me there are always reasons to be thankful.
So as we dive into the holiday season, I urge everyone who is feeling a little blue to look around and count all the wonderful blessings they still have. Don’t be thankful you have it better than someone else, but rather, be thankful for the blessing that remain in your own life.
Happy holidays, from the Grinch who is trying not to be one.