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"Happy Birthday/Thanksgiving, Mommy!"

Thanksgiving was my mom’s favorite holiday...therefore has become my most dreaded. I don’t know if it was the time spent with family, the scrumptious food that we got to devour like crazed wolves, or being able to sit and reminisce on all the many blessings we are thankful for. And some years, like this year, Thanksgiving falls smack dab on her birthday. I’m sure that played a part in her love for the holiday.

Thanksgiving is difficult for me, as I am sure it is for many. I miss the family gatherings, the laughter, the arguments, and of course, my grandma’s cooking. But even more so, I miss celebrating my mom’s life with the usual half chocolate-half vanilla sheet cake resting next to the sweet potato pie on the sturdy oak dinner table anchoring us all together for warm choruses of "Happy Birthday" in the dining room. Those special days that I often took for granted in my youth have become exciting highlights in my dreams. The older I get, the more I wonder what the relationship with my mom would be like today: Would she be proud of me? How often would we visit or talk on the phone? What parenting advice would she give? I laugh thinking about the scoldings she'd probably give me whenever I do not make my six-year-old clean up after himself before bed.

I miss my mom. But on hard days, the days that I begrudgingly awake after spending the night with my mom in my dreams, I gain peace in knowing where she is. Scriptures say to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:5-8), so I lean on that knowledge to get out of the bed and kiss my husband and son good morning. Because God has indeed given me much to be thankful for. And all the good stuff that my mom passed down to me which has been passed down to my son, I’m thankful for that too - because I get to see pieces of her through him, even though they have never met. I am thankful for my husband, who is not only the greatest daddy in the world to our son, but who also demonstrates great patience and grace with me as I fumble through the 24th of November and prepare to celebrate his birthday on the 25th. Because that is one more thing to be thankful for.

And as each year passes, as the number of years since losing my mommy increases, I learn more and more the meaning of gratitude - even for the little things - even in those days when it seems there’s nothing to be thankful for. She taught me that by the life she lived. So if you are having a hard time this holiday season, for whatever reason, please know that you are not alone. I pray for your peace of mind as you are grounded in God's love and truth. And for those who feel alone or are away from your family, I pray that God sends some people into your life to give you even more reasons to be grateful. I truly wish you all a Happy Birthday/Thanksgiving.

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