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Hanging on for Thanksgiving

by Cindy Bargell

Is there any family dysfunction that can’t be cured by a good sense of humor, a large dose of compassion and a glass of wine – or two? While I recognize there are chasms folks think can’t be bridged, it still seems a small request that we come together one or two days a year to pass the potatoes and feast on football (or vice versa).

Of course, the start of the holiday season often comes with mixed emotions. As I put on my happy holiday face, I sometimes still have to beat back the bah-humbug bug that wants to sneak out at unwitting moments – Christmas music in October, really? Still, I’m convinced that coming together with friends and family is the essence of Thanksgiving, creating traditions and memories to pass on to each generation.

When I was younger, I worked at a job where I annually tried to leverage my seemingly measly two weeks of vacation into the most fun and adventure I could book. The two-day holiday at Thanksgiving was an incredible opportunity to transform three vacation days into an entire vacation week. So, flights were booked to waiting beaches free from worry about whether I could whip up a great green bean casserole. The logic seemed impeccable, but the outcome now is a bit questionable.

Now, in fact, I wish I could bring those holidays back. I’d give up a sunny day at the beach to make that trip across town, and would not grouse about the chance to merely eat, nap and eat some more, because I’d be in good company. Little did I know that, while I was sneaking away for the holidays, my mom was not long for this world. After she passed away, Thanksgiving at my home would really never be the same. Not to be morbid, but it’s true we often don’t realize how lucky we are to have our quirky and sometimes eccentric relatives until we wish we could have them all back again, just for one more dinner.

Reflecting on those missed holiday meals gets me thinking about what I hold dear, and will say thanks for this year. I’ll start with my sister because she just had a birthday so I’ve been thinking about how lucky I am to have her in my court. She’s reliable, unflappable and willing to cook the turkey, worth about 22 pounds of gold in my book. It’s helpful, too, that she’s married to the best brother-in-law ever. Then there’s my spouse, who still sticks around for the holidays – all the while knowing that moment inevitably will come that I’ll claim I’m having a nervous break-down, and will act like it. And those kiddos who soon will be old enough to sneak off on their own holiday adventures. How I’ll miss them – right down to the constant nagging about Santa’s ability to manufacture an iPod Touch.

Not a single thing or object is mentioned in the list above because our real treasures are the memories, the experiences we share with all of the people who comprise our circle of life. So put on a smile and hone your sense of humor, and if Uncle Bill or Aunt Mildred start to set your teeth on edge, remember they will not always be around – and neither will you. This year I want to let lots of people know that they’re part of my Thanksgiving hit parade, even if I do have to cough up a bit more compassion and pour another glass of wine.

Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She is a card-carrying PTSA member, real estate and natural resources lawyer and part-time gymnastics coach. She welcomes your comments at cindy@visanibargell.com.


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