Sunday, November 29, 2009
It's really only been recently that the meaning of this festival has properly hit me. We don't have it in England, and all the "Pilgrims plus Native Americans" stuff didn't really strike me to begin with.
But nowadays, I get it. I also get the newer message - that of simply giving thanks - and I like it. We don't have a day simply to give thanks in England: we have a harvest festival many times, but it's not on a set date. So for me, Thanksgiving is much like a harvest festival. I sat there this year, gobbling food and really, feeling good about life. Here are a couple of pictures of my family, being thankful on Thanksgiving...
Last Thanksgiving...not so much. Actually last Thanksgiving hurt - a lot. It really stung. Christmas wasn't so bad - my sister N and brother F came to visit and it was lovely. But Thanksgiving was pretty awful. I remember being in a lot of emotional pain. My mother had just left a few weeks previously and I had no baby to hold.
So, when the adverts, or the people, or the stores said "think of what you're thankful for this holiday!" I had some real trouble. Remaining positive was possible on every other day than Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving itself, the walls came kind of, crumbling down, so to speak.
I remember telling H I really couldn't be thankful that year. I couldn't think of anything to be thankful for. Not on that day. Every other day I could be grateful to be alive, but not on Thanksgiving.
I drove out to the cold, cold graveyard where my daughter slept under the ground, and left my car running next to her plot. It was dark by this time, and I'd just taken off and left everyone in my house because I couldn't hold the tears back any more. I drove out there and listened to public radio, sobbing and sobbing into a box of Kleenex next to me in the passenger seat. The heater was warm; the temperature outside was freezing.
Suddenly, a medley of Shaker hymns, arranged a Capella by a composer called Kevin (can't remember the last name) came on the radio and they were just beautiful - rich, warm voices filling my ears.
I opened both windows and turned the music up for my baby, who couldn't hear... I turned those Shaker hymns up for all the babies in "Babyland" where she was buried and played them out across the dark, cold evening. I sat there and cried the whole way through. When the hymns were over, I put the car into gear, rolled up the windows and with one final look at the semi-fresh earth of my baby's grave, I drove back to the house.