Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

The holidays are upon us. For the next month, we'll all be in a frenzy getting ready for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. We're talking about putting up the tree this weekend, which is at least two weeks early for us. It's early Thanksgiving day as I write, and it's pouring down rain. The turkey is in the final stages of defrosting, and I need to go in and get started on the stuffing.

Before I do that, I guess I need to talk about what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for the friends and family that have supported us in our "lifestyle choice" over the years. I'm even more thankful that they realize it's not a lifestyle, but a life.

I'm thankful I've got a job that I love. It can be frustrating and overwhelming at times. At times it sends me home, eager to shut down. My co-workers make it worth all the effort and stress. There's an undeniable satisfaction that comes from meeting the day to day challenges of the work day.

I'm thankful for my family, the whole disputatious lot of 'em. The conflicts and frustrations of family life are leavened by an underlying love and caring that always comes through in the best and worst of times. Getting past hurt feelings and anger is easier when you realize that. The lows that are hit when you're right in the middle of a situation may be lower, but the highs are even higher. Six weeks ago, when I married Steve, we hit one of those highs, and it was glorious.

Having been through fights, deaths, births and reconciliations, it came down to knowing that one of us was getting married. It wasn't about being on our best behavior or our worst. It was about being a family, and knowing that one of us was taking an important step forward in life. In the big things, and the little, there's a comfort in knowing that your family will be there for you. Not out of a sense of obligation, but with an innate understanding that love, in whatever form, is simply that: love.

I'm thankful for my parents. I wouldn't be the man I am today if it weren't for them. They're coming up on 49 years of marriage and have set an example of how love endures if you leave yourself open to it. It's not a surrender or a vulnerability, rather it's an openness to experiencing the world with the person whose happiness is essential to your own. They instilled in me an understanding of what's right and good in the world, and a willingness to work towards that. By giving me roots, they've given me the ability to fly.

In these difficult times of real and imagined strife, change and economic stress, I'm thankful for being married. Steve is my rock and my anchor, and has been for the 20-odd years we've been together. His roots have been grafted upon the roots my parents gave me, and have grown to surround them, but not supplant them. We've built a life with and around each other, and have welcomed in anyone who is willing to share it with us. He gives me the room to reach for my wildest dreams, and a place to rest my wings after marathon flights of fancy. I can only hope I do the same for him.

Bringing Steve's mother into our home and into our family has been a blessing, the magnitude of which I can't begin to describe. After 18 or so years of a cross-country relationship, Neva is physically here for Steve, as he is for her. The emotional bonds between a mother and her son have been strengthened and have grown to encompass her other son. These bonds strengthen us and prepare us for the journey ahead. Inevitably, she will one day leave us behind. Her mind and intellect may go before her body does, but her love will be with us until we follow in her footsteps.

This one's for you, my husband. One day we'll look back on all of this and leave it behind, knowing that we've built something that lasted our lifetimes and maybe even beyond. We'll have shared moments of overarching joy and moments of deepest sorrow. We'll have shared that particular grace that comes from knowing we did it together.

I'm grateful that my brothers stood beside us as we wed, and that our nieces and nephews preceded us down the aisle, too. My sisters, our parents and our extended families, their friends and ours did so much to make our wedding day special. They succeeded beyond their wildest imaginings. Most precious of all, they exceeded our dreams.

Happy Thanksgiving, Steve. Know that I love you, most of all.

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