As usual, these writings are born from a stream of consciousness that starts with a single thought that bears little resemblance to the finished product. Amanda and I were talking recently about the elderly in assisted living and nursing homes who literally have nobody visiting them at any time of the year. How is it possible that someone could be completely alone during the entire holiday season?
Taking stock of what I have and what I haven't (Thank you Irving Berlin), I wonder - how is it that there are people in the world with nobody, while I on the other hand, have ...........
My immediate family - imperfect with their passive aggressive flaws, yet loving and supportive to a fault. My husband, who will forever be the original diamond in the rough, simultaneously infuriating and endearing, hilarious and politically incorrect. My daughter, whose has such crazy talent that her biggest obstacle at internships is how to handle the awkwardness of upstaging the chefs. And she is humble and caring enough to worry about it. My mother-in-law, who can be annoyingly patronizing, but how do you stay angry at someone whose most grievous offense is that of trying too hard? These are the people who color each day of my life.
My not-so immediate family - what does it mean when your husband's sister alienates and isolates herself from us, and the byproduct is that of us being embraced by her ex-husband's family? Whether it be the coming together of people in defense against a common enemy, or just plain empathy, the result is that we are celebrating Christmas day with my nieces - something we have not been able to do for many years. How can I be anything less than grateful for their extension of such a large and meaningful olive branch?
My Church family - I am in a lot of internal turmoil when it comes to these people, mostly because of my ongoing and ever-growing disenchantment with the faith into which I was born. I think about my desire to strike out in new directions with respect to my denomination, and I wonder what their reactions would be? They have seen me visibly angry during some particularly offensive homilies, yet I feel that there would be a lot of bewilderment if I were to leave the Church. Would they think I was going to Hell? (yes, there are still those who would believe that), would they miss me, the person, or would they just miss me, The Voice? I have a feeling that I'm going to find out sooner or later, so for now I must give thanks for them as they are today - the typical church choir: enthusiastic to a fault, caring and so perfect in their imperfections.
My Chorus family - I can't say much more about this group that hasn't been said. They are a collection of diverse personalities and backgrounds that somehow mesh in concert in a way that is completely unique, completely exhilarating, and musically fulfilling. They are so much like a real family that it's almost scary at times. No group as large as this can circle the wagons, support one another, and bring it to the stage like this one does. Recently, the words of our founder were resurrected, and I am so glad, because they are so true - "Ordinary people in a Chorus can make Great Music Together.".
My Work family - I swore up and down that I would not allow myself to become emotionally attached to the people I work with ever, ever again. I really did not have a prayer of being able to hold myself to that vow. The best way I can think of to describe these people is by saying "these are not your father's financial services professionals." And because I can say this about them, I can also come to terms with the fact that I fit in with them perfectly and for that, I am very, very thankful.
My Hamburg/Lakeview/Derby family. How did this northtowns-born-and bred girl manage to insinuate herself with these folks? They spoke to my heart from the beginning, and I know that I could live next door to blood relatives and not feel this kind of connection with them that I feel with this gang that lives 40 minutes and a Skyway drive away. I have loved them now for close to five years, but in the past year, they have taught me more about strength, bravery, support and caring than anybody ever has before and probably ever will again. They have shown me that when there is family tragedy, the better sides of our human nature can turn that tragedy into beauty. Not ordinary, superficial beauty, but the beauty of caring, of putting their individual needs aside, of sacrificing their futures in order to make a future for their loved ones in crisis. This is the powerful and beautiful love of this family, and that I am even privileged enough to be able to know this story is something for which I will be eternally grateful. Their influence on me and mine is priceless and can never be measured.
In times of trouble, I need to think of those who are truly alone, and I must remind myself that I am truly blessed. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!