A Witness Through the Window – Entry 3

The following requires a bit of vision and imagination; therefore, this can be read and related to at anytime. However, since this is time sensitive, I will keep this in the now and extend this invitation to you, wholeheartedly and wholesomely to be received and welcomed as my family because with all of my heart, this is the most personal item I have to give.
So. . .
You never think much about the future when you’re young. You never think much about the empty chairs at the family get-togethers.
And here it is, Thanksgiving Day.
When you’re young, all you know about is the people around you. All you know about is your favorite cousins and your favorite aunts and uncles. All you know about days like today is that by the time afternoon comes around, you’ll get to see everyone again. 
Maybe the television is on in the family room. Of course, the games are on and all the boys are in the room cheering for their favorite teams.
Can you hear them?
They’re on the couches and the younger ones are sitting on the floor. We are gathered here today to celebrate a feast. But more, we are gathered here to celebrate another year; another time around the sun, and another moment when we were able to get everyone in the same place at the same time.
If you don’t mind, I’d like to take you with me on a journey down memory lane.
By the way, you are welcome to be young again. In fact, I think it would be helpful if we were to imagine ourselves as kids for this example.

Look around. Can you see?
This is my Aunt’s house.
My Aunt Sondra was always the one who would set up the big gatherings, especially like this one. Her home was not altogether huge but her living room was big enough so that we could link tables together and place table cloths on top of the folding tables. I’m sure you can relate to this.
Can you see?
This is us, setting up the tables before everyone came over.
We placed chairs at the table.
Of course, when everyone arrived, their jackets were placed on the bed in Aunt Sondra’s bedroom. As kids, it was our job to hide in the mound of coats so that whenever the next person came in, we could jump out from beneath the pile of jackets and scream “Surprise!”

The living room was connected to the dining room which made it easier for Aunt Sondra to connect the tables. This way, everyone could see each other. We all sat together and, of course, every year something spilled or at least one glass was broken, which was fine.
Every year, I could hug my cousin Stanley. I could see my Cousin Harry. I could see the people in our extended family.
In fact, I have pictures from way back when – and I even have some from before my time.

I have pictures of these gatherings where everyone who was anyone in my family was there, eating happily, smiling and passing plates around the table. 
When I was young, I used to look at these photographs and wish I was there to see everyone when they were so much younger.

Can you see it?
The pictures, I mean.
Can you see the gathering?
I hope so.

Perhaps for this exercise it might be helpful if you take a deep breath, Think about the best plates of food. Take a breath. Or better yet, give an inhale through your nose as if to signify the aromas of a home-cooked meal. Close your eyes and think about everyone you know and everyone you love, eating in the same room.
Think about the feelings or think about the warm stimulation of nostalgia when regarding the wonderful greetings from your loved ones when they walk through the door.
You can smell them too. Their cologne. Their perfume.
You can feel the coolness of the November breeze on their coats and jackets when you hugged them as they arrived.

I can see this clearly.
Can you?
I can see The Old Man. I can see Mom. I can see my Uncle Alan and my Aunt Peggy. I
can see Rosalie. I can see Craig and Mark. I can see Iris and Aunt Lil – God, how I miss her.
There’s me, a witness to the occasion.
There I am (with you as my virtual guest) happy to be in the presence of Sandy and Carl.
I’m happy to be part of the pictures that add up in our family’s photo album.

I say this because we all know that a day will come when age happens. A time will come when one of the chairs at this table will be empty.
We know that a time will come when we look for pictures like this to remind us of the days when everyone was young and alive- and we were all happy –

There’s Mom’s mashed potatoes in the big white dish in the center of the table.
Trust me, you don’t want to miss a turn on that one.
Rest assured there’s plenty to go around but also; rest assured that Mom’s mashed potatoes will make it around the table more than once. There will be plenty of spoonfuls dabbed on the plates,
So, get it while you can.
There’s the turkey, of course, and the gravy. There’s the cranberry sauce and there’s the brisket over there. See it?
Aunt Sondra made a mean brisket!
Of course, there’s the stuffing and then there’s my Brother Dave, piling up food on his plate and taking it down, scoop by scoop.
(God love him. I know that I do.)

Today, in your presence is a moment shared and a moment remembered. 

Look around . . .
In spite of everything, there is still much to be thankful for. In spite of all the arguments and the bickering; and in spite of all the troubles we face and regardless of the typical problems with work or the problems with people in our life,; believe me, there is still much to be thankful for.

In spite of the problems with our so-called friends, or in spite of family inconveniences and our personal disputes, there really is so much to be grateful for. 
It’s enough to allow for a moment of silence. A reverie, a vision, and a moment so meaningful that you thought you’d seen it all but ah, there is more in store for the day ahead.

It’s enough to allow for a moment of peace; as if to resign for the moment and surrender the daily stressors and personal anxieties.
So much so that perhaps today is enough to prove that it’s the way Anne Frank said on July 15, 1944 when she wrote, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

She goes on to talk about the idea that she cannot build her hopes up on the foundation of confusion, misery and death. That to her, a little girl, she saw the world becoming a wilderness – and she talked about hearing the everyday thunder which would eventually destroy them. Yet, she was able to see hope and good and to believe.
In spite of all that surrounded her, somehow she was able to see there was something to be thankful for.

Perhaps this is why we have days like today.
Maybe we have days like this to remind us that although in each life, a little rain must fall – it can’t rain forever.
It’s okay to smile or feel or be open to the connection of a hand that touches the face.

There has to be a time to rejoice.
There has to be a time when we can come together, like now, and relive a constant stream of the wonderful memories – or if nothing else, to enjoy a dish made by my Grandmother. 

Something good must come, even when the badness seems to take over, something promising is about to happen.
Something beautiful comes and happens in spite of the common ugliness.
In spite of it all, no matter what – the sun comes up the next day.
This I can promise you.

And so –
should we find ourselves here, breathing and able to see, able to drink and able to eat; and should we find ourselves here (even with a broken heart) and should our legs be strong enough to carry us, so that we can stand up and stand tall, then indeed – there is something to be thankful for. 

In the hearts of us all is the need to reach out and to rejoice.
In the spirit of us is the desire to be happy, to experience love, to share a meal, to enjoy the sunset, and to rest again for the next morning’s sunrise.

It is neither easy nor hard, nor sad nor joyful, but simply put; this is life unfolding. 
Should this message find you, then I hope that this message finds you well.
And should this message reach you, then I hope that this reaches you with all of its intention which is to say this –
That’s me over there. See?
(right next to you)
I hugged and kissed the cheek of everyone in this room. And they would have done the same for you.
I enjoyed them as my family and extended family.
This is why I wanted to invite you here with me.
I wanted you to witness this because I know how it feels to look at the pictures in the photo album and wish you were there. 

If I can reach you with this then I have reached my intention.
Therefore, as a witness to this occasion, I am like anyone else in this world.

I have my own share of hard times and hardships.
I have let downs as well as reasons to mourn and like you,
I have empty chairs where my favorite loved ones used to sit. 

For the moment, let us not forget the empty spaces at the table this evening, for they shall be forever missed, remembered and forever celebrated. Though they are distant, they are no further than the love in our hearts. We know this.

So, tonight, let us sit together. Let us eat and let us enjoy this feast with one another.
Whether this is something between us in our imagination or in person – let us share together and celebrate what this day means – which is to be thankful for what we have.
To be thankful for those we love – and to be thankful for the love that returns.

I’m not sure if you can see the faces at the table now.
But if you can, I’m sure you’ll notice there’s a smile on every face.

Now this is something to be thankful for. . .

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