Melancholy Thankfulness

by Chloe Jeffreys · 47 comments

in Mental Health and Aging Well

On Thanksgiving last year my mother was dying. We didn’t know it, but as we sat there scarfing down turkey and gravy she had exactly 29 days left to live.

It was a terrible time. I’m thinking about her a lot these days as we approach the first anniversary of her death.

She loved Thanksgiving and Christmas and she always tried her best to make those times special for us.

I’m also very thankful for you; the people who take the time to read me and especially those of you who take the time to comment.  This blog has gotten me through a lot this year. I think it has helped keep me sane.

I’m afraid that my family might disagree with that assessment.

If you’ve been popping in lately you can see that I’m trying to learn about blog design. Yeah, I ought to learn it on a test site, but what would be the thrill of that? I’ve already completely brought down my site four times!

Each time I stop breathing for a moment as I desperately try to figure out how to fix it. You have to go to Vegas to get that kind of excitement.

I’ve learned about FTP and my blog’s backend (which isn’t like mine at all), HTML, and CSS.

Rafael, at Bluehost, and I have grown very close the past few days.  I know how to bring it down, but I also now know how to resurrect it again, Toot Sweet (or tout de suite for you French purists out there).

I’m loving Thesis and I’m glad I purchased it, but all the PR about it being easy-shmeasy for the non-programmer is utter BULLSHIT.

I wish I could write thought-provoking stuff about Jesus and faith every day that would bring in bunches of new commenters and tons of new traffic, but frankly that’s really exhausting and I can’t. I won’t.

One of the ways that I hang on to my Christianity is that I don’t wrestle with it every day. That puppy’s got teeth. I’m pretty sure that if I started doing that I’d toss it outside like many of my friends have too.

Speaking of teeth, Raynor has a whole new set. And they still hurt like hell when he suddenly chomps them down on you without warning. He’s getting better, but he’s still a puppy.

Correction. He’s an adolescent. Ugh. Another teenager to raise.

If he was a human being teenager he’d be begging for the car keys and sneaking out to drink beer with his friends. He needs a lot of exercise right now. I can’t believe I got him to sit still for one second to snap a picture.

But he is smart and beautiful and he’ll grow out of it. All teenagers eventually do.

Speaking of kids, mine won’t be here this year. Jeff and I made a big production getting the day off together but the kids can’t make it. Wolfie can’t make the trip up due to work, and Rachel is spending the day with her in-laws.  We’ll have our dinner on Friday.

Jeff and I have extensive plans to enjoy each other thoroughly, so it isn’t all bad. Trust me.

As much as I DO enjoy the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas always make a tad melancholy.

Though I am thankful for so many things this year–my kids, my friends, my toasty warm home, a refrigerator full of food, a husband who adores me–it’s also very bittersweet.

Thinking about my mom, missing my kids, facing my 50th birthday, (and knowing for sure that half of my life is over); this dark, nasty weather isn’t helping.

I have every light on in the house holding back the darkness.

How about you? What are you reminiscing about this Thanksgiving?

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Randy Zeller February 24, 2017 at 6:56 pm

Why is that my life is so rough and etc and i cant get no help with nothing at all

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Dave December 28, 2016 at 3:16 pm

If there’s a God, then he has some strange ways of helping the needy.
I was raised by people who used their wealth to treat themselves to their hearts desire while their children were left to starve.
At 50, after decades of honest effort to live as a humble Christian servant, poverty continues to dominate my existence. I’ve never known Love. I’ve never had real friends and I have seen the most self serving hypocrites flaunt their so called faith as a testament to Gods blessings and then berate me for never giving God anything to bless. All the while they take from the poorest to fund their comfortable lifestyle because “it’s Gods Will”.

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Dont Matter November 1, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Life is nothing more than keeping your mind off of dying once the reality of mortality finally sets in and says ” Hi, remember me?, I have been with you since the doctor welcomed you into this rotten world with a swat on your ass!”
Good, bad, or indifferent, it don’t matter. Everyone is enrapt in the things they find the most interesting to the level of intellect they are currently at.
Which is nothing more than a self evolving all encompassing distraction from the inevitable great reward……Death! As if you never had existed in the first place.
Life, the great illusion.
Murphy’s Law and Death are synonymous.
Death is proof and the ultimate truth, that anything that could possibly go wrong, WILL!
Cemetaries are full of people that will never
argue that fact.
Let’s hope their is a God.
I would hope that when it comes to the sake of good people and those who are evil,
That in the end, the same fate is not shared by both.
Existence would be the biggest joke ever played on itself.
Well, time for another distraction……
Whiskey should do the trick this time.
Pffffft! F-T-W

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david klein December 17, 2014 at 12:58 am

I guess I miss the point of this Web site . I’m new to this and lost my mother 2 years ago Sept 16th. I have had a stent put on my heart, my appendix burst during removal a two week stay, 2 strokes and a stent put in my head, and just found out stage 4 papillary Thyroid, lymph node cancer spread to the muscle tissue in my neck . I still function okay .This has all happened in the last two years after my mom died. I don’t feel like I’m a bad Christian , I question my faith at times. I feel God has blessed me to be able to spend almost all of my time the last 8 months of my mother’s life with her before getting ill. I’m going to be 60 this Christmas day , I’m a grandpa 5 times now . Thank you Jesus for looking out for me.

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Angel Collins December 26, 2011 at 12:46 am

It feels great to hear someone saying that they are very thankful because of you. It[‘s not that I demand them to say it. But I just like the feeling when someone say thanks to me. Maybe your mom is so proud of you. Nice post!. XD
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Chloe Jeffreys December 26, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Gratitude is a beautiful thing. your comment reminds me that I need to show more of it to the people I love.

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Anastasia Theodoridis November 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Here I was thinkiong about my own losses –sister and father, both in 2008, and yours is so much more recent, ergo so much more raw…

Prayers from here for you and your whole family. May Christmas be better.
Anastasia Theodoridis recently posted..I’m Alive and Well…My Profile

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Thank you, Anastasia. I think loss can hurt at any time. I expect this first year will be the hardest, but a part of me will always miss my mom. I just wish I could have enjoyed her more towards the end.

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Cliff - Carpet Cleaning San Diego November 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite hollidays. Christmas is right around the corner. Love your blog. have a great X Mass and take care 🙂

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Magnolia November 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm

RE: Thesis

Are you kidding? You’re doing a fantastic job! Are you doing all of this tweaking yourself? You’re waaaaaaaay ahead of me and I’ve been dorking around with it for 3 years now.
Magnolia recently posted..Happy Thanksgiving! See You All Next Week!My Profile

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

Why thank you, Mags!

Yes, I am doing this all myself. It’s sort of addictive, I’m afraid. But I’m pretty close to what I want. Just a couple of things left and I’ll have it.

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Kat November 26, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I cannot even imagine how you are feeling as you are nearing the anniversary of your mother’s passing. As I watch Jeff grapple with his father’s death…I feel helpless and hopeless and wish so much his father were with us… the pain of his absence is like nothing we have ever experienced, ever…

Keep blogging, Chloe. Keep wrestling with those ideas you have about faith. And when you do have the energy, share them with us. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

Thank you, Kat.

The death of a parent is devastating and far-reaching.

Maybe a years after my Jeff’s dad’s death, Jeff called me as he was coming home from work one morning. Jeff had seen a complete rainbow that had taken his breath awway and started to call his father because he knew it was something his father would appreciate hearing about on the phone. Then he remembered his father was gone. Jeff had to pull over to the side of the road because he was crying so hard. Then he called me.

As each holiday without her passes, I remember her again. The first memory is always, “Oh yeah, I’ve got to call mom.” Then the second is, “Oh yeah, mom’s not here anymore.”

It’s hard.

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Bernice @ Living the Balanced Life November 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Hi Chloe!
So tough to lose loved ones around the holidays! It just seem to magnify the pain when the holiday comes back around.
I have something to reflect on each year at Thanksgiving. 3 years ago, on the Saturday after T-giving, my dear hubby had a brain aneurysm. He survived and is still here and healthy, as normal as the rest of us (haha). If you want to read that story you can do so here My special season of Thanksgiving.
Oh, and 2 years ago on Thanksgiving week I went to the hospital with chest pains. Didn’t realize I was just headed straight into a full-blown breakdown. That year we had T-giving dinner at Golden Corral. All 27 of us.
I remember thinking after I was a grown-up that it was now up to ME to create that cozy holiday feeling in my home, can you say PRESSURE?
We have always had major holidays at my mother-in-law’s and then my sister-in-laws, but we realized that the bulk of the family attending is my 4 kids, their spouses and my grandkids, so this year Christmas is at my house. I want it this way, but again, can you say PRESSURE?
Enjoyed reading your thoughts, nice to know that not everybody is always chipper and happy at the holidays, because I’m not either. This way I know I’m not alone.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

Thank you, Bernice, for sharing your story.

I am so inspired by you and your zest for living. It was terrific to meet you.

I think there is a lot of pressure on these holidays to make them perfect. And, as Robin said, each year as its own story; it’s own set of challenges.

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Georgie Horn November 25, 2011 at 7:42 am

Stopping by from Domestic Anarchy blog. New follower, come by for some puddin n pie!
http://georgie-hornpuddinnpie.blogspot.com/2011/11/im-thankful-for.html
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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:04 am

Hey, Georgie, thanks for stopping by.

Domestic Anarchy and her husband Les are terrific people. Any friends of theirs I hope will become friends of mine.

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Robin November 24, 2011 at 9:45 am

I can’t say Thanksgiving was always good. It also wasn’t always bad. Each year had a story of it’s own and some of them were just as forgettable as a cramp.

When my parents were still together we often had the Macy’s parade as a backdrop to the day. There were also the candied yams and stuffing.

After I married we spent Thanksgiving at Aunt Phyllis’ house and it was exuberant pandemonium with a large passel of children running amok. Eventually my own kids were added to the melee. Both of my kids still miss those days. I’m not sure I do. ha

Sending you HUGS my friend!
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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 9:55 am

Robin, I love the thought about “Each year” having a story of its own. I think you’ve said something very important for me.

I hope I can embrace this more Zen-like philosophy this year.

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Paula November 24, 2011 at 9:10 am

Instead of having my whole family over for Thanksgiving, we are all going to Ryan’s Family Buffet and I am HAPPY about it! Next year, we will go back to tradition. Maybe.

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:56 am

One Christmas we went to Chinese All-You-Can-Eat Buffet for Christmas dinner, a la A Christmas Story (no dogs ate our dinner though). It was terrific! All the crab we could eat AND no dishes to wash!!!

We all have fond memories of that year.

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Larissa November 24, 2011 at 6:17 am

wow….you made me cry, thank you so much for sharing your feelings and emotions.
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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

Thanks for commenting, Larissa. The day ended up just fine. And on Friday we had a terrific Thanksgiving meal.

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Heather November 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I’m thankful for you and how you share your heart.

Praying tomorrow and Friday are days full of things to be thankful for.

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:58 am

Thank you, Heather.

The day ended up being just fine. We watched several shows, I played with my blog’s design, ate grilled ribeyes, and went to bed early.

As usual, the dreading is always worse than the real thing.

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Sharon Kosch November 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Yes, that house exists – it was my house. I’m one of the very small percent that had a non-dysfunctional family. It’s one of the things I’m most thankful for and I’m also thankful my mom is still here so I can tell her.

We’re in the trying to transition Thanksgiving to our house phase. Trying to keep my 86 yo mom from doing all the work. But if we have it here, she drives an hour to our place. Not a good thing. I don’t like this part, seeing the changes in her almost every time we see her.

Your mom was beautiful. I’m so sorry you’re missing her. My dad passed away just after Christmas 23 years ago. I still have waves of sadness and I think that’s pretty normal.

I hope you have a lovely day with your dh.

Sharon

ps Raynor is very handsome, just like all your kids.

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:54 am

Hey Sharon!

I’m happy to you posted about your non-dysfunctional family. I have met a few and they are terrific (and rare).

I like to think that the childhood we provided for our own children wasn’t dysfunctional at holidays. I think they have good memories of those times. I certainly do which is probably why I miss having them here so much now.

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Suzanne Young November 23, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. Probably because it is the one day about being with family and friends, good food, and no need to give gifts – unless of course it is a hostess gift because you are dining at someone else’s house.

Last year my husband and I broke with tradition and served prime rib instead of turkey, no stuffing, and instead of pumpkin pie – a Bobby Flay pumpkin bread pudding with whiskey sauce. The family revolted so we had Thanksgiving 2.0 with turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie. We were forgiven! It’s funny how traditions start – particularly with a certain food that MUST BE THERE or the world will come to an end. I’ve come to learn to honor that and serve whatever the kids want.

As we are now living in Texas and don’t have family close-at-hand we are going to participate in a Turkey Trot Fun Run (except WE are walking) as it will burn some calories before the food carnage begins and are thrilled that it will benefit the homeless in Austin.

As to turning 50 – girlfriend you look fabulous! Relish the fact that you look hot in your new skinny jeans and 5 inch heels. Keep rocking the look, and enjoy the time with your wonderful husband.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

Thanks Suzanne! I’m going to keep rockin’ it as long as I can because I know life is fleeting.

Jeff and I had grilled steaks and they were delicious! Of course then I made the whole traditional feast for Friday.

I think those foods of Thanksgiving are attached to deep and beautiful memories. I might want to get all experimental, but I know that if my kids show up they want the traditional things from their childhood.

It’s funny though. The night before TG, after I wrote this pity-post, Jeff made Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese with hotdogs. Now it isn’t something we both LOVE to eat, but the taste of Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese is associated with deep feelings of contentment for both Jeff and I. It is funny how food connects us to our childhoods.

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Susan in the Boonies November 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm

You know, life is full of bittersweet.

We face the tragic, and the amazingly wonderful, all in the same month, and sometimes, all in the same hour.

There is no way that the loss that you have experienced could not weigh on you. Thanksgiving is not all that you might wish, but I know your hubby well enough to know that he will move heaven and earth to help you know how much he values you and his family.

You have married a good, good man, but I know you know that.

I wish for you joy that comes from the inside, from the Holy Spirit, who wells up from inside of you, reminding you how deeply you are treasured and loved, no. matter. what.

I wish for you moments where you are able to enjoy and rejoice in each of your children, and in your wonderful husband. And in the gifts that you, yourself have been given.

And Raynor’s looking GOOD: he shows great potential, despite the sharpness of his teeth. I would venture a guess that while he’s not Jonah, who was WONDERFUL, in all his Jonahness, that Raynor will show you sides of his character that will make your heart sing, also, with wonder.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.
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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:46 am

Poor Raynor’s name has morphed into “Jo-Raynor”. He doesn’t really look like Jonah, but he sort of does enough that I get confused. He’s going to be a terrific dog someday. After he learns to stop eating the furniture and our shoes.

The day ended up being just fine. We enjoyed each other very much and the kids came on Friday. Rachel showed up early and we cooked the meal together. Then they came back for Jeff’s famous breakfast of stuffing and eggs the next day.

It all turned out in the end. Holidays always seem to, don’t they?

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SewWhat? November 23, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Your mom was beautiful!!! That shot looks like a magazine cover!

I know how to get rid of dog issues, give it away! LOL I’m a kitty person…

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:48 am

I took that picture of her when my father was in Viet Nam. Not back for an 8 year old, huh?

She was beautiful. She had great skin. I should have listened to her about staying out of the sun.

And if this dog eats another pair of shoes he might just find himself sitting on the curb with a “Puppy, For Free” sign around his cotton-picking neck!

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SewWhat? November 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Wow, amazing for an 8yo!

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Why thank you. It came out nicely.

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Les Kertay November 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Thanksgiving wasn’t much in my house, either, growing up, and yet as an adult it’s always been one of my favorite holidays. Maybe less so now that I read that for Maddie it means more work – not that I didn’t know that, but I guess I didn’t think those were the associations. Like many men, I guess I can be awfully self-centered. Sigh.

But in tomorrow’s post I tell a story that I first heard 40 years ago (literally, to the day) that is my association with Thanksgiving. There is something about gratitude for what I have, and sharing it with others, that keeps me going and gets me through the ugly times. If only I could always remember it.

I’m sorry for your loss, Chloe, and grateful for friendships far and wide.

Les
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Maddie Kertay November 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm

But this was a good year.. more work and all.. really very special and one I will keep in my heart for a very long time.

Maddie
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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:27 am

This is sweet. I’m glad to meet another very happy couple who have been married a long time and still got it going on. If only everyone could be so lucky, Maddie.

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

I’m grateful for you and Maddie and all the other terrific friends I’ve made through blogging and my online life. It’s wonderful to have a place to go to talk about these things.

I’ll be heading over to read what you wrote soon. I was in design-land and have a lot of blog reading to catch up on.

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Jack@TheJackB November 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Good luck with the coding and design. I have done a fair amount of that myself and have found many ways to break the blog. Good times.

Sorry about your mother. Fortunately my mom is still with us but this will be a different Thanksgiving for my kids. Most of the family will not be here and there great grandparents are now officially gone.

Should be a good time for stories. I used to tease my grandfathers that when they were gone I would make stuff up about them and no one could say otherwise. Kind of bittersweet to realize that I can do that now.
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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:24 am

Thanks Jack. You’ve been a huge inspiration to me as I’ve watched you DIY. I had really planned to pay someone to do it for me, but it has been a lot of fun to learn. I do think there are a couple of things I’m going to outsource though. Too much time is being taken trying to tweek a couple of things that I know a professional could do in a few minutes.

I hope your TG was good. I think there were some golden years when the children were young and the grandparents were not too old. That was the sweet spot.

I know what you mean. As a storyteller, I am more free to talk about my mother now that she’s gone. The storyteller in me loves the freedom, but the daughter in me finds it cold comfort.

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Jazzy November 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I’m so sorry about your mom. I was just thinking when I saw some of your FB posts that this holiday season would probably be difficult for you.

My mom lost her marbles over the summer, and I have not spoken to her in 3 months. It has been hard on us all, especially the kids, but at least she is still here and there is still hope that one day things will be different.

You will be in my thoughts and prayers over the next few months.

I usually love cooking for Thanksgiving, but this year has been a wreck and hubby wanted to give me a break. This year I’m thankful that some people are willing to work on Thanksgiving. We’re eating out.

Oh, and I couldn’t figure out Thesis either. Bought it and still paid somebody to design my blog.

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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:21 am

Thanks for stopping by and remembering my loss, Jazzy. That means a lot to me.

I’m sorry about the estrangement with your mom. That’s tough. Part of me knows (and I know you know), how fleeting life is and would want you to quickly mend your fences so you’ll never have any regrets. But another part of me knows that boundaries are necessary for life as well, and sometimes we have no choice but to erect them to protect ourselves and our children.

It is just a no-fun place to be.

I hope you had a terrific Thanksgiving anyway. Somehow having kids in the house always made me try a lot harder.

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Anne (@notasupermom) November 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm

That house does not exist.

My dad and step-mom were supposed to come up, but have had to cancel. No comment.

One son is at his dad’s and the other has to make lattes all damn Thanksgiving day.

I’m going to wear sweat pants at watch the Macy’s parade and the dog show.
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Chloe November 28, 2011 at 10:18 am

How was the Parade this year? For some reason I completely forgot to turn it on.

I hate that ANY stores are open at all on Thanksigiving. Can’t we all agree to make our own damn lattes a couple of days a year!?!

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Maddie Kertay November 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Ok.. my deep secret… Thanksgiving means more dishes, it means I have to clean the house and the kids bicker more than normal. It means I get a virus of some sort ( 4 years running-sigh)

I wish I had grown up in a house where T-day was all that I think it could be ( that would have been my next-door neighbors house- I should have moved over there). It was nothing in my life. Mom often worked on this day ( I think she actually volunteered to work so she did not have to do t-day).. her depression ate up our holidays the way others eat up the cookies. Dad did his best but .. well you get the picture. I do my best to make this a day we can enjoy.. but really.. until I find it in my heart I am pretty sure than everyone else also knows I am faking it ( maybe not.. who knows). BUT… I am thankful for so much I have.. the connections I have made that keep me sane. For hot friends in their skinny jeans with their cute puppy ( lordy he is getting big).. My kids are well, I love my man.. please pass the turkey and gravy won’t you?
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Chloe November 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Amen. and Amen.

I wish I had grown up in a house where T-Day was all that I think it could be. Does that house really exist?

I hate to think that my depression would be something my children would think about on holidays, so I fight it and deny it and pretend it isn’t there as best I can.

I’m grateful for you and so many other friends I’ve met along the way who’ve held me up. Thank GOD for that.

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