New Traditions

How bad am I at keeping up with this blog lately? I'm sorry! Work got crazy last week and outside of all of that, I just didn't feel like doing anything but being lazy and thinking about all the food I'm going to eat this week. I'll do better, I promise!

Today's post is one I've been thinking about lately but haven't really been sure I wanted to write. In the spirit of embracing authenticity, though, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. Bear with me while I try to work through my thoughts and form them into something worth reading.

At the end of August, my grandmother died. It was sudden, unexpected, as jarring as anything could be to my family. She was our matriarch and, as a Southerner, I don't use that word lightly. Every family celebration, from achievements to holidays, took place around her dining room table. I grew up spending my parents' date nights catching fireflies in her garden and watching Wheel of Fortune and eating the peppermints she always kept on the side table. She would rub my back when I was sick and let me try on all her vintage gold rings. She was kind and beautiful and strong until the very end and the peace she exuded even in her final days will be an inspiration to me for the rest of my life.

Thanksgiving this year will be our first family gathering since her funeral and our first holiday without her. Even now I'm struck by the sadness of not seeing her in her kitchen, cooking the bowl of corn that she always made special even though I was the only one who liked it. She won't be there swatting my grandfather's hand away when he tries to sneak a bite of apple pie before the table is set. She won't be there making sweet tea for the girls and unsweet tea for the guys and opening a can of Diet Coke for my aunt who doesn't like tea.

Because I've lived away from home the past few months, I have more or less been able to avoid my sadness over her death because I haven't been to her house, haven't seen her immaculate calendar in the kitchen or her beautiful cross-stitches in the hallway. Now her absence at our dinner table is all I can think about. I look forward to seeing my family but not to seeing her empty chair. I've never lost a loved one and I don't know what to expect come Thursday. I hope that we'll feel her presence there. Thanksgiving was always her favorite holiday.

Take an extra moment this year to count your blessings for the most important people in your life. The people you love are everything, and they can't be replaced. I hope that all of you, and most especially those dealing with loss and grief this holiday season, have beautiful and blessed Thanksgivings.

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