CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, only to be surpassed by New Year's Day -- the ultimate new beginning (but that's another column!).
My family, friends and co-workers have been known to secretly (or not so secretly) groan when I've pulled out the traditional decorations and "The First Thanksgiving" story -- and encouraged each of us to read a stanza while passing around the pilgrim hat to wear. One can never get too much of Miles Standish, Priscilla Alden and Squanto!
I've always taken it in stride, though. It's like charades -- everybody rolls their eyes when it's mentioned, yet they really get into it once the clues are being given -- and people start acting out their parts. Hidden talents and pockets of creativity come out that you never knew were there. Right, Book Club?
Rather than focusing on one day a year for giving thanks, which often gets blended with football and naps, I've started to reframe the holiday as ThanksLiving. It's really a way of life, rather than an observance of a single day.
Now this time frame holds even more significance for me. This year it will mark the one-year anniversary of my mother's passing -- the "November to Remember," as my family calls it. We all practically lived together as our mother (and grandmother) hung on from a heart attack suffered on Nov. 4, followed by kidney complications, a hospital stay and Hubbard Hospice House residency -- till Nov. 20, when she made her transition.
Now that the calendar has rolled around again, I've found myself with flashbacks of that flurry of activity and the months of reflection that followed. I so appreciated the cathartic experience of writing about this in my column last year.
And I want to take a moment to again express my gratitude to all of you who have listened, written a note, sent an e-mail, sent flowers and food, visited, called or just sent some mental energy to me. You'll never know how much this has meant to me -- and the comfort I've derived from your intentions. I've kept every tribute, and they're among my special treasures and prized possessions.
While I've certainly had my phases of extreme grief, I've also found a peace in "feeling my mom all around me." This has actually felt very warm and comforting, and I find myself still communicating with her, only in a different way. As I reread some of the notes I received, I've found many of you have experienced the same thing, and others may be going through it right now:
(Note: Now I know.)