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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Lessons in Thanks

I normally don't like the idea of eating in a restaurant on Thanksgiving.  Why?  Well, I guess part of it has to do with the fact that I don't want anyone having to work on Thanksgiving, especially when it comes to serving someone like me.  It just doesn't seem right, as everyone should be able to enjoy the holiday with their families.  This year though, as a result of some changed circumstances, I actually did eat Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant, and, well, it was a great experience.

Part of the story here goes back a few years to that period when I was going through a divorce.  One bit of well-intentioned advice I received was basically that I should require my daughters to have Thanksgiving dinner with me.  That one was tough.  That whole first holiday season was difficult, truth be told.  I always hated the drill of having to run between houses on holidays, and the last thing I wanted to do was to subject my own children to that sort of thing.  A lesson of sorts was learned from that Thanksgiving, namely that giving thanks can't be forced.  Since then, I've tried to balance holidays like Thanksgiving such that I can see my daughters, with minimal stress to them, without stressing myself.  These days, my daughters spend Thanksgiving with their mother and family, and I typically see them in the evening or on the next day.  That's the plan this year, by the way.

Moving forward, I've tried to create new traditions.  Well, that's incorrect, as I've basically come to join my wife's family traditions, which usually means eating Thanksgiving dinner in Philadelphia.  This year was a bit different though, as most of her immediate family was traveling over the holiday.  What we ended up doing was finding a restaurant in southcentral Pennsylvania, where we joined my wife's remaining state-side sibling (plus husband and one daughter), and the aunt of my two stepsons.

(THIS place)

It turned out to be a great decision, for the official record.  It was a nice day for a drive to Annville.  The food was great.  Our server was terrific, and we left her a very generous tip.  It was also nice not having to clean anything up.  Yes, in a perfect world it would always be nice to have Thanksgiving dinner at home, but I don't feel bad about our choice this year.

The larger lesson here harkens back to what I noted previously, namely some sense of absolutes ("you must insist that your daughters...", "you should never..."), no matter how well-intentioned, aren't necessarily helpful.  In fact, the world...and our collective mental health...can do with fewer absolutes.  Save those for the things for when they are an absolute necessity.  For everything else, well, it's always good to keep an open, less rigid mind about things.

Lastly, this is still (with about an hour to go as I type this) Thanksgiving, so it's wholly appropriate that I note how very much I have to be thankful for in this life.  Compared to most, I have been incredibly blessed, many times over.  These blessings are so abundant that, in fact, they are far too easy to take for granted.  I need to work on keeping that perspective, and like most important things in life, that will continue to be more of a journey than a destination.

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A special note of thanks:  More people actually read these postings that I want to admit to, and for that, well, I am very grateful.  It's nice to know that I sometimes write things that others find worth reading.  It's an even better thought that sometimes I may write something that gives another pause, that may leave someone saying "wow, I feel that way too" or momentarily takes someone out of their day.  While I'd still write this stuff if no one actually read it, I'm very thankful that some actually do.     

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