Happy Thanksgiving

It seems I have let a large chunk of time pass since my last post.  I didn’t mean to stay silent for so long, I just got caught up in life.  Though I have neglected my blog for a few months, I have decided that a perfect way to get back into the swing of writing would be to write about my experiences with Thanksgiving, the American holiday of feasting and reflection on the things in our lives that we are thankful for.  There is much for me to be thankful for this year I am happy to say.  One of the things I am very thankful for is the joy of the holiday itself.  There was a time when I felt indifferent about Thanksgiving.  A period of time in my life that I just didn’t care about the holiday at all.  That may sound odd until I explain why.

When I was young, as far back as I can remember, I used to love Thanksgiving.  I don’t remember anything from before my parents got divorced, but I do remember Thanksgivings after that time where my father would take my sister and I to his Aunt Eve’s house for Thanksgiving.  The entire family would meet up at Aunt Eve’s house, and I loved going there. I would get to see cousins, second cousins, grandparents, and family members that I didn’t get to see on a regular basis.  There was always a huge amount of food to eat, and plenty of family bonding.  I look back on those days with many fond memories.

As time passed and everyone got older,  Aunt Eve stopped having big family gatherings at her home on Thanksgiving.  That is when the tradition of Thanksgiving began to unravel, and I began to lose the joy that Thanksgiving used to bring me.  For a couple of years, my grandmother started making Thanksgiving dinner for our more immediate family until she felt that it was too much for her to handle at her age.  After that, my father would take my sister and I out to a restaurant for our Thanksgiving meal.  That only lasted a couple of Thanksgivings until the day I finally gave up the idea of ever having a traditional family Thanksgiving again.  Although I don’t remember the exact year it happened, I will always remember the day my father told me and my sister that we would be on our own for Thanksgiving.  My father had made plans to spend Thanksgiving with the woman he had been dating that would eventually become my stepmother forcing my sister and I to seek out other options for our holiday.

I spent a Thanksgiving or two after that having dinner at the homes of some of my friends.  I am grateful to my friends for allowing me to join their Thanksgiving celebrations, yet I couldn’t help but feel like an outsider the whole time.  My mind just couldn’t accept that this would be how my Thanksgivings were spent, and I longed for the holidays of my youth at Aunt Eve’s house.

I began a new Thanksgiving tradition  a couple of years later when I met my wife.  Shortly after my wife and I began dating, she invited me to share Thanksgiving with her and her family.  At the beginning, I still felt out of place even though my wife’s family welcomed me to their holiday celebration.  Once I grew more familiar and comfortable with my wife’s family, Thanksgiving began to feel like a warm family holiday once again, and I was happy.

Alas, as the saying goes, all good things really do come to an end.  A few years later, I lost my job due to a lay-off right before Thanksgiving.  I was able to find employment a few months later at a new company.  The new company that employed me, however, had a work schedule of twelve hour shifts working seven days a week.  The only time the plant closed was on Christmas day, which meant that I ended up working a twelve hour shift on Thanksgiving day.  Let me tell you, nothing made me feel as indifferent towards Thanksgiving as being forced to spend the holiday at work.  Sure, the cafeteria at work would make a decent Thanksgiving meal for all of us at work that day, but that couldn’t hide the fact that we were stuck at work.

Fortunately, three years later I changed my shift at work and I no longer had to work on Thanksgiving and could return to spending the day with my wife and her family.  That would only last a couple of years, unfortunately, due to a death in the family right before Thanksgiving a couple of years ago.  That year my wife and I had a quiet Thanksgiving with just the two of us and a small turkey that my wife cooked.  Despite the recent family tragedy, spending the day with just my wife eating a good Thanksgiving meal, watching parades and football, and not having to leave the house at all turned out to be a very pleasant way for us to spend our Thanksgiving.  For that reason, that will always be one of my favorite Thanksgivings, even though the weeks leading up to that day were tragic.

Last year, things changed once again when my father and stepmother finally moved out of their tiny apartment into their new home.  Now that they finally had a home with plenty of space to share, my father and stepmother decided to host Thanksgiving dinner.  My wife and I were happy to head to my father’s new home and join my father, my stepmother, and my stepsister and her family, and begin a new family tradition.  This year, we are once again heading up to my father’s home for Thanksgiving.  I am happy to say that Thanksgiving, once again, feels like the proper family holiday it should be.  I am actually looking forward to spending the holiday with my family this year.

After all the ups and downs of my past Thanksgivings, I can honestly tell you that this particular holiday has become very important to me.  Thanksgiving is now one of my favorite holidays, which is something I have not felt in a very long time.

I hope that everyone reading this will have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope you will appreciate the family around you. You many not always get along with your family, but you just might miss them when they are not around anymore.  To those that don’t have family to spend Thanksgiving with, I hope you can find some joy and happiness on the holiday too.  I understand how it feels when you don’t have family to celebrate with, and I know how much of an impact that can have on you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Dedicated To My Uncle Lenny

I told my cousin that I was going to write this post many months ago.  I guess it’s about time for me to actually write it then, even though it’s the hardest post I’ve tried to write yet.

I don’t have a lot of memories from my childhood, which I believe is because I have blocked them out of my mind.  I won’t discuss the reasons behind my memory blocks in this post, that will be a post for another day.  This post is about the fond memories that I do have about my Uncle Lenny, and the strange impact his death had on me.

My Uncle Lenny was one of the most interesting and fascinating men that I knew when I was a child.  Uncle Lenny seemed like a very busy man to me when I was young because he had a lot of hobbies as I recall.  One of Uncle Lenny’s favorite hobbies that I can remember was ice racing.  My uncle owned a car, which he may have built himself, or had at least modified, specially suited for racing on a frozen lake bed.  The car had chains on its tires and a painting of Snoopy in his pilot costume on the side of the door.  I remember going to the races and cheering my uncle on as he raced.  I’m sure I often froze my buns off, but I remember the races fondly.  In a related hobby, my uncle also owned a kit car that I think he built himself  in his spare time, or he may have had it built for him, I’m not quite sure.  I remember the car was a beautiful blue sports car, though I don’t remember the make or model, that sat very close to the ground.  I thought that car was the coolest vehicle of all time when I was a kid.

Beyond cars, I remember my Uncle Lenny owned his own telescope.  Uncle Lenny loved taking me and my cousin and sister out to his back yard and showing us the stars in the night sky.  Uncle Lenny was the man who introduced me to all of my favorite constellations in the sky as well.  I owe a large part of my love of space to my uncle.  Perhaps I should buy my own telescope to relive those wonderful memories one of these days.

Uncle Lenny had a great sense of humor and a wild imagination too.  My father told me a story once that my Uncle Lenny once spent an afternoon around the holiday times sitting in front of his Christmas Tree, concentrating on moving the tree with his mind.  The funniest part of the story is that at one point, my uncle actually believed he had managed to move the tree a couple of inches using telekinesis.  My father told me that my uncle was so excited by the accomplishment, he had to tell everyone.  My uncle was so proud of his accomplishment, even if nobody, my father included, would believe him.

My Uncle Lenny was great, and I loved him very much.  That’s why my reaction to his death has always confused me, and still confounds me to this day.  Let me try to explain how I felt, and hopefully you will understand.

Uncle Lenny died when I was thirteen years old of a massive heart attack.  My uncle was somewhere near my current age when he died, that’s one of the reasons I’m trying to lose so much weight now.  I remember the day I found out my uncle had died very clearly.  I had walked into the house after hanging out with my friends to find my cousin and sister sitting at the kitchen table.  They were both very upset and crying ,  it was instantly obvious that something terrible had happened. I asked what had happened, and my cousin told me that her father, my Uncle Lenny, had died earlier that day.

The death of  a relative, particularly one as close as my Uncle Lenny was, is a tragic and painful experience that we all must deal with at some point in our lives. Everyone deals with that loss in a different way, but generally it is met with grief and sadness.  When my cousin gave me the news about the death of my uncle, I don’t know how my outward appearance must have seemed to my cousin and sister, I just remember how I felt inside.  I remember thinking, oh, that’s too bad, as if I had just learned about the death of a stranger that I had never met before, or someone’s pet that I had only heard them talk about.  I felt no immediate grief, sadness, or even loss.  I can’t even say I felt numb or surreal at all.  At that moment, it was as if my mind didn’t even register what was really going on.  To this day I don’t understand why I felt that way, and I still feel bad that I wasn’t immediately distraught or even mildly saddened by my uncle’s death.  The days leading up to my uncle’s funeral did nothing to change my feelings.  I wanted so very badly to feel grief at my uncle’s passing, I just didn’t.

I remember very well the day of my uncle’s funeral, I recall it raining that  day.  The moment that stands out the strongest for me is my family and I waiting inside the entrance of the church that held the funeral services.  I stood there next to my father and watched as the rest of my family filed into the church, each face soaked with a sad combination of tears and rain, still wishing I could share their grief.  It wasn’t until I saw my aunt and cousin exit their car and approach the church that something changed.  I can’t say for certain what had happened in my mind at that moment, all I can say is that when I saw my aunt and cousin walking in, seeing them crying and distraught hit me so hard that it caused me to instantly break down and release all the tears and grief that had been missing from the previous days all at once.  I felt as though someone had punched me so hard that the pain reached my very soul.  There are only a few times in my life that I have cried as hard as I did at that moment.  I still get a bit teary eyed when I think about that moment.  In fact, my eyes are watering a bit as I type this.

After that moment, I was able to feel the full grief of my uncle’s death.  Oddly enough, I am grateful that the grief did at last come.  I have not had such an odd reaction to a family member’s death since my uncle died, and I hope to never feel that way again.  I think missing the grief immediately, then feeling a few days worth of grief all at once, is without doubt one of the most horrible feelings I have experienced in my whole life.  At times, I have felt guilty about my initial lack of grief.  When I feel the guilt, I remember how much pain I felt when I saw my aunt and cousin at the funeral, and I realize that the grief did come, it just took some time

 I have often thought about how my life, and the lives of my family would be different now if  Uncle Lenny were still alive.  I love my Uncle Lenny, and I miss him very much. Sharing all of this with you is my way of honoring the memory of my uncle, and I thank you for reading this important posting.

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