Tradition. Heritage. Legacy.
Tradition. Heritage. Legacy. For me, these words conjure up feelings of pride and bring back cherished memories of holidays spent at my Nene’s house. It was a full house between myself, my brother, my parents, and all my aunts, uncles and cousins. We knew the holidays were in full force based on the delicious smells coming from the kitchen and lingering throughout the house as the family prepared. We would gather around talking, baking, cooking, and learning from one another. Then, the day after Thanksgiving, a group of friends would head out for a hike into the woods to work it off and share our friendships and memories.
Over the years, the family has moved all over the country, and although we try to stay in touch, it has been difficult. There have been setbacks, unexpected turns, and of course, the pandemic.
This year, our family created a new tradition. My wife and I decided to (responsibly) gather both sides of our families at her childhood home in Eastern Tennessee. This included my daughter and her family, my two step-daughters and their family, my brother- and sister-in-law, all of whom joined us for the holiday with my wife and her parents. The experience of four generations enjoying each other’s company, laughing, sometimes crying, and creating new memories was truly a wonderful sight. Everyone pitched in, making their favorite dishes, trying new ones, and playing sous chef in between. Watching the families getting to know one another, play and learn was amazing. This time there was no day-after-Thanksgiving hike, but I can tell you, between the festivities, four kids (ages 6 months to 8 years), and three dogs running around, we were pretty worn out by the end of it all!
We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful extended family. God smiled the day I met my wife, Susan. She and her family have welcomed me and my family in a way that I couldn’t have imagined. So, in reflecting on Thanksgiving 2021, I am thankful for:
- ⦿ The mistakes I’ve made along the way which helped me to slow down and enjoy the process;
- ⦿ The challenges of the pandemic that allowed me to better appreciate my family, my neighbors and our health;
- ⦿ The practice of meditation which encourages me to react less and breathe more;
- ⦿ The ability to grow and improve which taught me to change my attitude and be less reactive;
- ⦿ The friends, family and colleagues who have helped me understand that each day I can strive to be more thoughtful, purposeful and caring;
- ⦿ Connecting with others at a time when they need it most.
As we gather for the holidays, may we all appreciate the blessings we have, give thanks for the lessons we’ve learned, and share with those we love.
I wish you and your families a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!