The sprit of Thanksgiving

When children smile...

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. When I was young, I fell in love with the idea of having all of my family gathered together in one place. Our everyday lives seemed to be so hectic and passed by so quickly. I didn’t quite know exactly why everyone’s lives were so hectic, but I knew that I longed for days like Thanksgiving when we would all be together.

My uncle used to joke with me about how attached I was to him when I was growing up. My youngest uncle was still in junior high when I was born, so as I was going through the motions in elementary school he was in high school raising ruckus and chasing girls. While I had intentions of having him sit and watch me play with my Barbies after school, he had intentions of taking Cassandra to the movies. Of course I did not like that one bit. I set out to ruin Cassandra’s life and rid the house of any future signs of her. My foolproof plan had one major glitch though; she was way too nice, and she was absolutely gorgeous. And unlike the other girls who came by trying to get invited to Sunday dinner, she carried herself with class and dignity. I saw the way my grandmother looked at her with approval and it resonated within me. I remember thinking to myself, “I am going to be just like her one day. And when I do, I will have a large house with tons of kids, and have GREAT Thanksgiving dinners just like we do in this house”.

As the years went on, Cassandra came and went; along with many others. But what was constant was the laughter and joy that still remained in the house. As a child who didn’t quite understand the intricacies of teenage life, I watched my aunt and uncles as they went about in their different directions. All three of them were as different as night and day. But one common thread always held them together…me. No matter how much they argued and fought, they could all agree that spending time with their niece brought them closer together. I didn’t quite get that when I was little, but as I got older I saw it for myself. I saw that no matter how hectic their lives were, or how much they argued, they could all find it in their heart to stop and give me their love and affection. Now that I’m grown, I only wish that I would have cherished those moments even more. If I could go back in time to any particular period in life it would have to be Thanksgiving Day 1982. It was the first time I could actually understand what true love was, and it was an absolutely perfect time in my life. That moment was, and will forever be priceless.

Today I can now say that I can see how much of a difference children make in our lives. Everything we do each day is to grant them better lives. No holiday is complete without the joy of the little ones. I can remember the time that I actually realized what I meant to my aunt and uncles. I never knew that something so simple as making me smile could mean so much. Today I finally get it. I finally get why it meant so much to them, and I can see how much it means to me to see all the kids in our family running around with those big smiles on their faces. I get why my stepson is ecstatic about now having a large extended family with tons of aunts, uncles, and cousins. And I get why I wake up so early on Thanksgiving morning to make sure that everything is perfect for them. I can only hope and pray that God grants me the blessing of never having to endure a Thanksgiving without a child’s smile.

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