Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Thanksgiving Day was always one of my favorite holidays as it was time to get together with family, no pressure for presents or religious connotations - just a day devoted to feasting.
But in 1996 Thanksgiving Day became paradoxical when I was unable to celebrate with my three oldest children, as “punishment” for divorcing their abusive father. Although I did have later opportunities to share the holiday with them, it was as if they were merely visiting for dinner. And regardless of the fun they had with me during the holiday, their father would always mock our celebrations.
I am still an avid participant in the holiday tradition and am thankful for the gifts in my life: my beautiful teenage daughter, an adoring husband, my cute cat and dog, good friends, my cozy house, a running car, my abilities as a writer and pianist, my optimism, and my good health, despite a few minor glitches this year. Thanksgiving meals have transitioned since my childhood. The past few years, we have been enjoying the holiday with friends. We are now the “older” generation, and our attending offspring are young teenagers. It’s practically perfect.
However, as we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, it was the American judicial system that took my three oldest children and gave them to my abusive ex, who neglected them, and didn’t provide them with the love of family, and alienated them from any maternal ties. I find it somewhat contradictory to celebrate a family-based holiday that originated in a country that has destroyed the familial bonds. Yet, I persevere, as the message I want to provide my youngest daughter is in keeping with tradition and being thankful of what we do have, rather than what is missing.
I cannot mourn the loss of the company of my three oldest children, as I am still able to enjoy the holiday, and what it means. I can only find empathy in my heart for what has been taken from them. Instead of creating a strong loving bond within their father’s circle, the meaning of the day have been fraught with hate and retaliation over many years. How awful to be forced to celebrate the loss, and unrelenting vengeance on a day that is supposed to be dedicated to love and family!
Although this has been a difficult year with the loss of my mother, my job, and some unexpected minor medical problems, I can only anticipate a day filled with happiness, great food and wonderful people. And I will give thanks for that, and say a silent prayer for all children who have been robbed of the joyful message of Thanksgiving.