pre-thanksgiving . . . grief and gratitude

by Kristen

It’s November and the weather is catching up to the season. With the flip of the calendar and the chill in the air, my thoughts drift toward the holidays.

At work I write copy for our Christmas campaign with a sense of relief that I can skip ahead to December. I’ve never been excited to rush through the eleventh month to get to the twelfth month—not once. I fight the too-early arrival of Christmas each year . . .

But today I welcomed it.

Because when I picture my family we are gathered around my grandparents’ dining room table on the last Thursday of November. And I’m unable to imagine my favorite day without my grandma. It’s been years since she candied the yams or we celebrated at their house; but even as our traditions morphed, we were together. This year we’ll be missing our matriarch, and I can’t wrap my heart around the hole.

Maybe it would be easier if we’d had a holiday or two to practice being present in her absence, but we haven’t. Our first big family day since she stepped heavenward will be Thanksgiving. And the incongruity of gratitude and loss hounds me.

Each day of this new normal I notice more ways I miss Grandma: her smile, her grace, her one-liners, her joy, her ability to temper our rough edges with a look, a word or simply her presence. She was the filter through whom we saw one another. I am grateful. And I grieve.

So I relish the temperature change and the crisp pleasure of today—laden with memories of the past—as I put off the future. The griefs will arrive in due time; they can neither be rushed nor postponed.

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