November has me thinking about Thanksgiving, probably my favorite day of the year. I love our tradition of a Thanksgiving meal shared by my family around the large table in my Mom's home. We come to that table each year with gratitude in our hearts for the bountiful and delicious food, the laughter brought by stories from our past, the interest in all we are doing now, and the hope we share for what our future will bring.
In addition to food and gratitude, we each bring our unique selves to our Thanksgiving table. Of course, my sisters and Mom and I share some traits, given our shared genealogy. Likewise for our children and each of us. Yet we are all quite unique!
My brother-in-law is a sports nut. His dream job was to be a sports reporter; sadly for him and for sports fans who will never know him, his dream didn't come true. He knows the stats on the players, the dirt on the coaches, the fan chatter, etc., for nearly every sport. He may not be on TV, but he keeps us entertained with his insightful and brilliantly delivered commentary.
My other brother-in-law is a first generation US citizen. His parents ran a dry-cleaning business when he was growing up. They spoke almost no English, and lived a quiet existence, working hard to make a better life for their children, which they have. His appreciation for his upbringing is always felt when he speaks, and we appreciate it, too.
My husband owns a small business. He always has a story to tell about mishaps due to employee poor decisions, client first-world-problem syndrome, or Mother Nature. My husband is someone who can work through anything that comes at him, and then laugh about it. We all appreciate his ability to let go of life's small crises.
My sister is a nurse practitioner. She tells stories that literally make us drop our forks mid-bite, swearing to never allow ourselves get to the unhealthy state in which so many have gotten because they don't take care of themselves. We appreciate her efforts to get them back on the path of healthy living, and we take her advice to heart.
My other sister works for the government. I'll let you imagine what she brings to the table. We appreciate her ability to tolerate it.
The kids, most of whom are now young adults, bring their fresh perspective on all that they're doing and seeing in the world around them. We all appreciate their new ideas, optimism, and hope.
My Mom brings her smiling countenance, taking it all in, grateful for her legacy. I tend to be like her.
We each bring something special to that Thanksgiving table. We embrace our differences, knowing that our unique experiences and personalities add to the collective wisdom and perspective we all take away with us, which we then bring to "the table," a metaphor for gathering, wherever life takes us.
May you find gratitude in all that is brought to your table this Thanksgiving, and always. Embrace it and share it.
author of "JOY"