Grief and Loss · Holidays

The Thanksgiving Dinosaur

The holidays have arrived…officially.

The radio stations started playing their holiday jingles 26 days ago. The Christmas decor at Target has been steadily growing  since the week of Halloween. Christmas lights glisten on houses and from from windows sporadically in the dark as we pass by in the car, and the Christmas trees sit waiting on the farms, we even had our first few snowflakes of the year recently…

And so it’s here.

It feels like doom has landed. It feels like the dinosaur is standing there over you, hungry and licking his lips. Waiting to crush you, destroy you, eat you alive.

It’s time to get ready to run…

And I’m not ready.

I never thought of the holidays bringing such doom and fear, such pain and unhappiness. They say it’s the “happiest time of the year”… Clearly the original author of that phrase wasn’t grief-stricken on the day they wrote that little jingle.

It feels inescapable. It feels mightily overwhelming. The silent pressure of expectation weighs down on you, and the loud clang of dissapointment sounds as you, yet again, ‘fail’ in the eyes of the world.

The dinosaur is waiting, watching you, to strike at the perfect moment. The one awful moment when you let down your guard and think you’re safe… And then he reaches down and takes a bite out of you.

And it hurts way worse than you thought it could or would. The dinosaur got you.

There is no magic this year.. You cringe at the sound of Burl Ives and  “It’s the most Wonderful time of the year”. You cry and snap at the kids and are ‘that mom’  at the store because there is just too much coming at you- and then (if you’re like me) you retreat and  buy everything else online, in the safety of your own home. You don’t know (or much care) what you want as far as gifts. “No, I didn’t make a list for the kids yet”, and “Yes we still haven’t decided what our (insert holiday here) plans are.”

Thanks-giving. The dinosaur wants his meal…

In a season where giving thanks is the central concept and calling of a holiday… Why is it so hard to find a heart of gratitude amidst a season of grief?

I don’t want to give thanks. I want my son. I don’t want to have to take the annual family photo… With him missing. I don’t  want  to have an immense sense of fear and pain as I remember how we announced he was coming into our family on thanksgiving. I want him here, now.

A year ago, a tiny ornament sat wrapped… Waiting to share the news that we were so thankful to have a sweet little baby en route to us.

And the gift was opened and smiles grew from straight laced mouths and hugs were given and  this child… He was excitedly anticipated and appreciated. People gave thanks for him a year ago. We talked of what this year would be like with his first hold it season…

And now it’s here, and he is not.

Did I give thanks for my son a year ago?

Oftentimes I wonder if I didn’t thank God enough for him and his little life.

Do I give thanks for my son today?

Begrudgingly, yes. (Huh?!?) I am immensely thankful for his life and I am immensely challenged in being thankful amidst his death.

Do I give thanks when I don’t want to? When I don’t feel like it? When it’s easier not to- even then, will  I still give thanks?

This is the central question I must come back to.

Of course, if I sat down (as I make my children do) and tried to write out a list of things I am thankful for, I could have quite a list. My husband, my children here, A house, good health, cars to drive… It could certainly continue.

But in those grief moments. The moments that “shouldn’t be”… There in lies the real challenge and question of WILL I give thanks? Even now. In even this…?

I don’t always succeed. I’ll be honest. Sometimes I don’t even want to try to succeed because I happen to enjoy my bitterness and misery thinking of only myself and my incredible losses.

But today, on this day; this day of Thanks-Giving, I choose to give thanks.

Today is a day that was founded by people whose desire it was to give thanks for their survival. For their food. For their friends. For their family. For freedom…

And I have all of that.. And more, so much more.

I have Jesus, and he has my son. What ‘better’ is there than that?

Thanksgiving is here. Like it, don’t like it, want to avoid it or ready to face it… The truth is that it is here.

Will you make it a day of thanks? Or let the dinosaurs eat you alive?

Choose, dear mama.

Remember dear mama,  this is one thing you can choose  amidst a series of unfortunate events that you couldn’t  choose.

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