Some Thanksgivings are easy. When my children were younger, I just could not believe how lucky I was: two beautiful children, kinehora (in Jewish, that means “Keep the evil eye away”). We invited friends and loaded the table with food; I think I even shed a few tears of pure joy. If you are going to have that kind of Thanksgiving, then all I can say is that I am green with envy. Really. I don’t covet money or things, but that kind of joy — the kind that has eluded me for so many years — of that I am jealous.
For most of us, the holidays are, at best, bittersweet, a time not only to celebrate those at our table but to miss those who are not there. My big dining room table sits in the house I no longer live in; I have a small table now, and even that table will be half empty. My Thanksgiving table has been eroded by death and divorce and children who grew up and left or have other plans for dinner. So we will be five, and it will be a lunch, with not really enough people to merit a turkey: Who eats turkey at 1:30 anyway? And besides, after two years of stomach troubles, during which someone was constantly shoving turkey at me (I was unable to eat fresh fruit or vegetables), if I never saw turkey again it would be too soon.
Boohoo. Self-pity swings into full gear at the holidays. We all assume that everyone but us is sitting at one of those big tables, groaning with the fullness of their stomachs, surrounded by loving friends and family, eager to make a day of it.
I know. No matter how many times I say the gratitude prayer that morning, no matter how many times I remind myself to thank God for my blessings, as I sit at the table eating nothing, I will be praying that God ensures no one else’s life is ruined by incompetent doctors the way mine has been.
I cannot be very grateful. My only consolation for a ruined life -- all my friendships lost and almost all my relationships destroyed -- is to do everything I can to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. That is my prayer and my wish. May you enjoy your turkey more than I will ever enjoy a meal again.
Be well. Without that, nothing matters.