Although the journey of every year is characterized by hills and valleys, some years may be defined more by one altitude than the other. This year, specifically the last few months, has been a year of valleys in my household. In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I am clinging to a message of gratitude and hope, hanging on and climbing up the slope.
We lost a matriarch and a patriarch within six weeks. Both my mother-in-law and my father were icons in their individual ways. My mother-in-law was the heartbeat of the extended family, the keeper of the traditions and the quintessential Jewish Martha Stewart. She was the glue that held us all together. My father was the personification of The Greatest Generation, a veteran that survived the beaches of Normandy to go on to build a family out of love and and a company out of sheer grit and a fierce intelligence.
These two forces of nature will be sorely missed at our Thanksgiving table this year. Similarly, many other family members that used to be part of our nuclear family around a large table of thirty or so will be missing as well…off to different homes, even different cities, where their new extended families take them. Our table that once filled a large room is whittled down to a small table in a much smaller room this year. This may be considered a valley, and yet…there will be new faces at the table; the significant others of our children who enter our lives and thereby begin to build new family.
The annual Thanksgiving table truly is a microcosm of our lives.
I am grateful for the faces that will be at my Thanksgiving table; young adults brimming with ideals, solid moral compasses and a myriad of talents…young adults who are also committed to making the world a better place for all who inhabit it. I will look around at the faces at my table and be grateful, even joyful.