The title of this post was taken from the song Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter.
I've been writing this Thanksgiving post in my head for a week now. I'm still not sure what to say. I am consumed with gratitude for the many things I've been blessed with. When I think about Thanksgiving it's hard not to remember all the Thanksgivings before. Growing up, we spent every Thanksgiving at my Grandpa Arritt's house. The whole family would come in and the kids would play while the women cooked and the men worked on cars. I miss those days.
I think about the early years of my marriage with Mike. How we would have small Thanksgiving dinners of our own before getting together with our families. Looking back at pictures, I have to chuckle because the meals were anything but elaborate. You couldn't have convinced us that there was anything better. We were proud of our little family.
I think about the first Thanksgiving after Mike passed away. How difficult it was for me to find joy in anything. Nothing felt the same. I still couldn't imagine my life feeling normal. I can't even recall many memories of that time because my grief was so consuming that I just don't remember much.
I think about the life I've created for myself. I have four beautiful children that bring such amazing joy to my life. Yesterday, Sebastian came up to me and gave me a hug and then rested his head on mine. I am blessed to have a fifteen year old that cares so much about his mother. I can't help but smile as I watch Tyler helping and playing with her younger brothers. She has such a kind heart and loves to help whoever needs help from her. Then, there's Mason. Every morning, no matter how busy things are, Mason will look at me with his big blue eyes and say "Snuggle?" He just wants to start his day with a quiet moment with his mom. I often ask him what he's going to do when he can no longer fit on my lap. He just shrugs and says, "That will never happen." As I walked in to get Jaxon up this morning, the biggest smile graced his face. How inspiring it is to know that this amazing little boy finds comfort and joy in seeing his mother. And, of course, there is John. Dear sweet John who came into this family knowing we were broken. He took on this confusing role in our lives and never seemed to question our crazy. I know I repeat this a lot but it means so much to me that I feel it often bares repeating. He doesn't try to change our grieving process. He hasn't tried to take the place of Mike and it doesn't matter that the older kids call him John. There is no push for them to call him dad. One of my favorite movies is Step Mom. One of my favorite lines comes near the end of the movie when the mother is talking to her children's step mom and knowing that she is dying of cancer says...
"But the truth is, she doesn’t have to choose. She can have us both. Love us both. And she will be a better person because of me, and because of you. I have their past. And you can have their future.”
I like to think that, if Mike could, he would say something similar to John. In my heart I know that he would be grateful for this man that works so hard to help raise these kids with all the values that were important to him. Most of all, Mike would be grateful for the fact that John includes him in all he does with the kids. They don't have to choose...Mike had their past and he has their future. We have created this untraditional family that is so full of love and life. I am so beyond grateful to share this time in my life with John.
I'll end with some pictures that we had taken at my Grandpa's house last week. I have an amazing family which includes those here and those in heaven. So from our crazy family to yours: We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Make memories and cherish your time with those you love. Life is short and we aren't guaranteed any more tomorrows, but what a joy it is to live today.
All four and a half of my kids :) Only nine weeks and three days, okay give or take a few days :), before we get to officially meet Blake.
This shot has become a yearly tradition. Someday I'll post all of them together.
Dear heavens she is beautiful!
My little Moose Goose.
He looks just like his dad. I love him so much.
This is how I usually find Sebastian...listening to music while reading a book.
John and Jaxon <3
Sebastian, Mason and Tyler
My reasons for all I do.
John and Jasper. Oh my goodness I love this dog. He has played a huge role in helping the kids heal.
My dear sweet Jaxon.