For the past 8 years, I’ve spent the majority of holidays and special events alone; often serving the homeless. Each of those a reminder of the aromas, giggles and delights of holidays we hosted. As is often depicted in stories, comedy skits and television programs, the dysfunction of the family clan occasionally reared its’ ugly head. As I recall those moments, there are countless smiles, for despite sarcasm, bad jokes and often “hurt feelings”, there was love.
Isn’t love what family holidays and special occasions are about? I was delighted when our daughter invited her father and me to share in the joy of celebrating Thanksgiving this year with her family. Charles declined for now he has a “new love”, Debbie. She now takes precedence over even a few hours of our family time, as she enjoys the “here and now” with Charles.
For many families, the “here and now” with one another is what they cherish. They know there are numerous empty chairs. The laughs or sarcasm are now mere echoes. They cherish what God has given today; their family. As we sit down at my daughter’s Thanksgiving table, there will be empty chairs; yet one of the most significant, will be one of the “living absent”; her father.
As we reflect on blessings of this year and those of the past, I am grateful for more than I could possibly count. I recall one of our most memorable holidays, even though alone. In 1971 Charles’ parents and my mother joined the two of us in celebrating an “early Thanksgiving” as we were departing the following day for a new adventure; Charles’ US Army assignment to Ft. Benning, GA.
Although the trip was a difficult one due to my pregnancy with our first child, our move to GA was a “mini vacation.” We had never had a honeymoon or vacation in our 2.5 years of marriage. We experienced sights which we might never have seen. Thanksgiving at the Officer’s Club in Ft. Benning was delightful, but lonely. It is one which I will always reminisce with fond memories. Our time on base was a blessing, for those were pages of our life’s album.
There is never a year, I can’t recall gifts of gratitude from God. Even during the tremendous sorrow of the marital betrayal, there are blessings. Yes, I’m grateful that at one time we were a family. My gratefulness included all those years of opening my heart and life to Charles and his family. I opened our door, greeting them with hugs and smiles, for most of those persons that walked through are now gone. I would not have done this if I had “known Charles’ heart.” God spared me of knowing Charles’ hatred of giving to others. I would have missed those memories. I gave of myself to those God gave me; family and friends. I Cor. 13:13 NKJ, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”