28 November, 2013

This Year

As we prepare to roast our turkeys and mash our potatoes, many today, in anticipation for the traditional round-robin dinner conversations, will be considering what it is this year that they are thankful for. I've been thinking about this for weeks, which is highly uncharacteristic of me - I usually quickly conjure something up as others at the table recite their seemingly well-thought-out thanks. But this year has been different.

For the latter half of this year I've dealt with the imminent and then actual passing of my Grandma Inez. So, when I look back on this year for things to be grateful for it's seems natural that I think "Well, shit. Something really bad happened this year. I'm not too sure I'm grateful for anything right now."

Last night Dan and I made a quick trip for last minute Thanksgiving grocery things (read: wine). While we were there I got the three ingredients I needed to make my favorite dip (it's really easy, ranch and sour cream dip that pretty much no one else likes but me). Once home, I began the painstaking task of preparing the dip, which of course made me hungry for the dip.

So, Dan and I sat sipping our drinks and, as I am eating my snack, I am suddenly fighting an impulse to cry. It took me a second to figure out why ruffles chips and ranch dip is bringing on this emotion and I then it hits me: Gram always made sure this was at Thanksgiving for me.

Some years back I remember complaining that the appetizers (the food you eat before you eat your food) were gross. So, Gram asked me what I liked (the most basic dip in the world) and from then on it was always there for me. A little bowl of ranch dip next to all the delectable (to someone else) morsels made especially for Thanksgiving Day.

"There's more in the fridge, Rachie, if that runs out." She'd tell me as she showed me where I could find it.

It is such a small thing, making this dip, but I'll never forget it. She always remembered me.

This is the first Thanksgiving we have to celebrate without her and being away from my family is harder now than it has been in years past. But, even as I know there are absolutely things I am not thankful for this year, I know exactly what I am thankful for. I'm thankful for time.

While the latter half of this year has been filled with sadness, I am thankful for the first half. When it began, I thought the year was going poorly. Dan hadn't found a job yet, law schools weren't unanimously rejoicing in my applications. We moved back to Livermore and stayed with my parents, which was a step backward in many respects.

But as I look back on that time of uncertainty I realize that I was blessed. I was blessed to be, once again, a daily part of my family. I got to spend time with my Grandma - lunches, coffee, shopping trips, family dinners, family vacation... I hadn't had that much family time in two and a half years.

I look back and I am thankful that I went to the cabin with my family the first weekend we were back in town. I almost said no. We had just finished a cross-country tour and the prospect of sitting in the car for two more hours seemed tortuous. But we went. We spent time in the warm cabin. We went walking in the redwoods. We celebrated my and grandma's belated birthday.

I am thankful that my Aunt Laurie planned the greatest surprise tea party ever. Gram had so much fun that day with all her girls around her. We ate sweet things and wore silly hats. She couldn't stop smiling.

I am thankful that my family makes a point to have family dinners. When everyone is around its loud and funny - just the way we like it.

I am thankful for the time I had with my grandma earlier this year. God knew what he was doing and I am thankful.

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