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Be thankful for humble Thanksgivings

A dreaded Thanksgiving Day was approaching. It was in the early 80’s and the first holiday after my divorce. My three children would be spending the holiday weekend with their father.

To be without your children on holidays is only one of the sad things about divorce, not only for parents but for children as well. It was extremely difficult for all of us. I had been dreading that upcoming Thursday for months.

I had no idea what I was going to do when others were with family. Was I going to cry all day and sink into deep despair? My fear was that I would do exactly that.

My extended family lived in other states and I did not have the means to go to them, nor were they able to come to me. My fate was to be alone.

Joan was a great friend, mentor, and coworker. She was older than I and had been divorced for years. Elegant, beautiful, and smart are just a few words to describe this ex model.

“Lynn, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?” she asked at lunch the Tuesday before.

“Nothing!” I quickly answered.

“Why don’t you come over to my house? I am inviting several friends over, who also are alone for one reason or another, to celebrate the day. Bring a dish!” she declared, not waiting for my response as she walked back to her desk.

Knowing Joan, I dressed in my finest dress, baked a pie, and drove to my first Thanksgiving without family.

The day that I was supposed to be crying all day turned into a day of laughter. Yes, it was different, but wonderfully so. All adult, sparkling champagne, fine food and fellowship. When grace was said, there was not one person that was not thankful for the family that was not there.

I drove home with the knowledge that God was with me and had graced me with a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

The following year it was worse. On Thanksgiving Thursday, I was in the hospital. My children were with their father. My family was coming the following weekend to see me and care for me once I was home.

The patients that could were escorted to tables in a dining area. The hospital had adorned the tables with white cloths and paper turkey centerpieces. They served the traditional food and, truthfully, it wasn’t all bad.

It took all I could do to not only sit there, but to not fall on the floor in a heap of tears.

Then grace was said. I looked around at the bowed heads of the variety of folks that were sick and alone. Suddenly, I felt a togetherness of kindred souls. I realized that this was just a temporary moment in time, never to be visited again.

I would be one of the lucky ones in the group that would return to health and love. Some there would not.

I went back to my room without a tear in my eye realizing God was with me and had graced me with a humble, grateful Thanksgiving.

Years would pass filled with normal, joyful, family Thanksgivings.

In the 90’s I recall one particular holiday Thursday when my girls could not be home for Thanksgiving. My college-aged son and I would be the only ones eating at our table.

“Mom, are you going to cook on Thursday?” my son questioned.

“Why not?” I retorted.

“Well, Mom, it is just the two of us. No need to cook just for me.”

“Of course, I am cooking, crazy boy! Two is always better than one, right?”

He shuffled off shaking his head.

On Thanksgiving Day, I put my finest china on the dining table. I cooked all the things my son loved including a turkey. I lit the candles and added another plate.

“Who’s the other plate for?” Corey asked.

My dog, Chelsey, was the smartest, best dog a human could have. She also was a professional beggar. She was so adept at it; she could get a food morsel out of a devout cat lover.

“I figured Chelsey should finally have her own plate of food.” I said to my son.

When we gave Chelsey her plate, without her need to beg, she looked up at us as if she wasn’t sure we had not made a mistake. Once I told her it was all hers served on my finest china, I think I might have seen a tear in her eye.

Corey and I never forgot that funny Thanksgiving, and as we watched football together in the afternoon, I knew God had graced me with another wonderful, laughter-filled Thanksgiving.

Now, that I am older, and look back at all the Thanksgivings I have lived through, I find it fascinating that some of the most difficult ones brought the most humble, sincere appreciation of the gifts of life.

You see, it is the difficult times that can bring us forward into a realm of joy and thanksgiving.

I hope for all you that are inundated with family, friends and fine food this Thanksgiving, you sincerely appreciate that you are. I hope for all of you that find yourselves alone, or without family, or experiencing a new kind of Thanksgiving, that you pause to realize that you are never alone.

If we ask God to sit at our table, no matter how humble it is, He will grace us with a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

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Lynn Walker Gendusa

Contributing columnist

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell. She may be reached at lwgendusa@bellsouth.net.