We’ve been planning and shopping and chopping and stressing and Thanksgiving is finally here. Thanksgiving for me has always brought memories of comfort and warmth. The holiday was always spent up north with my grandparents. We’d pile into the car when school got out and make the three and a half hour drive. Long ride, but we knew there would be lots of fun and food at the other end. Upon arrival, we’d bolt from the car and after a few obligatory hugs and howdy’s, we’d run off and play with all the neighborhood kids that we hadn’t seen since last summer. You have to remember, this was before game boys and X-boxes and smartphones.
We actually went outside to run around and play until we were all eventually summoned back home for this incredible feast. We’d Run to the house with rosy cheeks and runny noses out of breath, get our hands washed and grab our places. Dad would say grace, and the holiday season would be underway. That was a different time. It didn’t seem that folks were as busy then. I don’t remember ever hearing complaints about work, or politics, or the economy. Certainly there were challenges then. Things weren’t perfect. But there just didn’t seem to be as much angst back then. We appear to be wound a lot tighter these days. Perhaps that’s just the carefree nature of youth. I was unaware of adult challenges. I think our parents protected us from them for as long as they could. I’m glad I had the chance to experience Thanksgiving before it became about non-stop football marathons or getting a jump start on other Christmas shoppers. There was no such thing as shopping on Thanksgiving. Heck, you couldn’t even find an open gas station on Thanksgiving! There was no such thing as Black Friday, Cyber Monday or any of that. It was about one thing. Family.
As a very young man and new father, I wanted to continue that same pleasant, pure experience, filled with food and laughter and love with my family. It occurred to me this morning when I was driving into work, that I had succeeded. What a great blessing. Four years ago in 2011, we were up to our elbows in the Thanksgiving meal, enjoying each other, telling stories with great embellishment and having a beautiful time, when Jordan (Our youngest) Said “Dad, you really outdid yourself this time. This dinner is incredible!” Fishing for further compliments I said, “Thanks. What’s the best part?” Without a seconds delay, he said, “Being together.” Just three days later, we learned that Jordan had cancer. Now, don’t bail out on me here. This is not an Oh-Woe is me. I have a point that I want to make. As many of you know, we lost Jordan last fall. Many of you had written to me, that you too had lost someone you loved, and that makes the holidays unbearable. I too, could find little reason to be thankful.
I now realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. I miss him terribly, yes…..but I learned so much from that kid in his brief time with us. By his example, he showed me how to be kind, respectful and tolerant of everyone. He shared his wit and humor willingly, but never at the expense of someone else. He showed me how to appreciate every little blessing that life had to offer. What I am trying to say is that in the midst of sorrow, you can still find the joy. That’s what Jordy would have done. He loved being with family more than anything else in the world, and I am surrounded by all of the people that he loved the most. He would have loved that. While we lost him way too soon, I thank God for every moment I had with him. I am also grateful for You! Thousands of you reached out to our family to share words of comfort and support. You have no idea what that meant to us. The world keeps turning…..it is still Thanksgiving….and I am still grateful.
From the Dionne family, we hope your Thanksgiving celebration is full of love and peace and laughter….and that you make memories that will last a lifetime. That is what we intend to continue to do. I appreciate you so much. Happy Thanksgiving!