Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving thanks for changes

As the Thanksgiving weekend draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the changes in my life over the last few years. There have been many.

Time marches on, and with the passing of my grandparent’s generation, my family has drifted into the busyness of our individual lives. To recreate the big traditional dinner we once shared is too exhausting to contemplate, so we don’t. I make myself content knowing that all but one of my family is in good health, and the youngest generation, while it’s unlikely I will get to know them well, are thriving.

Those around me in busyness, mostly at my day job, bemoan the same changes in their own families. If you’re one of the lucky ones with a good job, you’re working harder than ever just to tread water. And we’re told to get used to it, because the demand that we work harder and harder with fewer rewards is now the new norm. We’re older, but we dare not falter, not with pensions to protect.

I am thankful to have a job, no matter what it does to my mental and emotional health. I’m even more thankful to have my mortgage paid in full.

This year, the Thanksgiving table I sat at was not my own, and while the hosts graciously included my mother and stepdad, I was not among family. My partner was, and for that I am thankful, even as my soul was lonely for my own bygone days. The conversation swirled around me with chitchat about people I don’t know and have no connection to, all in that family world in which I have no history. But I am thankful they value me enough to include me at their table.

Trips down memory lane are counterproductive. With family scattering, and friends determined to run away from their lives to warmer climes, the years to come will see my Thanksgiving rituals be private ones. This I know, and to survive the holidays on my own, I will need to guard them well. I am thankful to have the strength to accomplish this.

But if just one thing in life is constant, it is that change is inevitable. Sometimes one is even thankful for those changes. The wheel may yet turn full circle some future day, and the Thanksgiving table I sit at will be among my own. I would like that, and be doubly thankful.