Recently I have been spending quite a lot of time feeling grateful. Thanksgiving seems like the obvious time to do just that, but honestly most people who live lives like mine, aka MOTHERS, don’t have time to get that grateful feeling in the midst of cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping, catering to and carrying the load for everyone in their families at this special time of year.
For me though, this year has been different. My father has disowned me. My father who got custody of me when I was a small child and my mother was committed (yes, committed) and who raised me with the help of a never-ending stream of housekeepers. That man made the executive decision to never speak to me again and hasn’t. I have made the choice to respect his decision.
All of this changes the way our holidays look. There will be no Night On The Town with dinner and entertainment for our entire extended family. (I know, First World Problems, if you’re the person thinking that, please stop reading now and go be merciless and hateful to someone else.) There will be no blasted, stupid, turkey dinner at my dad’s house with my sister’s thin gravy and cold salads left over from the Christmas Eve party. In fact, because my father has disowned me, none of the rest of my Patriarchal lineage is speaking to me really, except to verbally pee on a fencepost now and then.
The traditions and rituals of a half century of life have been, quite suddenly and mercilessly, snatched away. (And I won’t go into the feeling of mourning the loss of a loved parent, not to death, but to lies and hatred. It is impossible to fathom–both as the child and as the parent of 5 kids.)
I have the most wonderful family in the world. Honestly. My mom is a nut. She’s funny, and half blind, and adorable. My children are works of complicated beauty and tricks of DNA that surpasses it’s origin by miles. My husband works hard and comes home and supports us in the ways that he understands.
My home is warm. Our bodies are filled with good food and clothed warmly this winter. We have all of our limbs, which grew in normal proportion and we have the benefit of employment and cars that get us where we need to go. We are strong and smart and when our part of the family is together, as we will be tonight, my home is filled with love.
I am also grateful for the connection to my lineage that not even my father can take away, living as I do in my Grandfather’s home and looking out over the water every morning, walking to the places where I used to pick wild asparagus with Grandaddy, sleeping in the room where he and my Grandmother both passed in their sleep.
As things are removed from our lives, no matter how painfully, whatever remains becomes more crystalline, is distilled into it’s finest form.
So, I am also grateful for my father. Because he raised me. Because he taught me to be proud of my lineage. Because he has taught me how incredibly strong I am.