This family of turkeys has been patrolling our neighborhood for weeks. There are five in all, and lately they have taken to roosting outside our ground-level basement window.

We first spotted them over the summer: two adults, three chicks. Now we can’t tell who is who.

They stick together, these five. And when they appear in our yard, I always check to make sure each one is present and accounted for.

They remind me that this year, Thanksgiving will be markedly different for Paul and me. Like other years, we will be sharing the meal with friends, but for the first time ever, neither of our sons will be at our table.

Older Son will be celebrating with his girlfriend’s family in Connecticut, and Younger Son will be cooking and eating dinner with a group of fellow Peace Corps volunteers in Morocco.

While this change makes me a little sad, I’ve begun to embrace the new order. Planning a meal and hanging out with friends—without the pressures of family—is a lot of fun. And this year, just like our sons, Paul and I will be doing that too.

I know I will miss them. Especially Younger Son, who is so far away and won’t be home for Christmas either. But I also know that the love they feel when they sit at our table will be with them on this day too.

Both of our boys have grown into loved men. They carry home with them wherever they go.

For that, I am truly grateful.

Photos courtesy of Judith A. Ross.

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  • Judith A. Ross November 26, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Thanks Diane and Maryl for weighing in. As it turns out, we really enjoyed our Thanksgiving with friends. But, I admit, what made it better was a text I received from my older son while we were taking a walk between the main course and dessert. He was having a wonderful time, his girlfriend’s family was treating him well, he sounded very happy, which made us happy. And I loved that he gave us a shout. Younger son also reported in the next day, saying he, too, had had a good holiday. Two happy sons, a day with friends, what more could one ask?

    To paraphrase Diane, life is in the moments both big and small, and time with family and/or friends is time to be treasured and embraced.

  • diane Dettmann November 23, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I agree Maryl. Judith’s essay is both sad and encouraging. For me, embracing that sense of the “holiday new order” has been an ongoing process impacted by marriages, births of babies and the loss of family members. My siblings and I made a huge effort to gather around a table or Christmas tree with our family for years until my parents passed away a year apart. After that, sometimes we managed to get together other times not.

    After my loving husband died suddenly in 2000 at the age of fifty-three, I nearly gave up Christmas all together. Luckily, my siblings rallied me and I managed to hang a few ornaments on a scrawny tree that first Christmas. Seven years later I remarried. With the “I do”, Thanksgiving and Christmas changed again. Now the two of us spend a week in Cancun before the holidays and on Christmas Day we enjoy time together or with family, whatever works out.

    For the first time this year, my husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving gathered around a table at the nursing home with my wonderful 94 year-old mother-in-law. Toasting our day of thanks with a plastic glass of Manischewitz wine and a delicious meal, I realized that, happy or sad, life is what it is in the moment, and I plan to embrace the moments we can share with family and friends. Happy Holidays to everyone!

  • Maryl November 20, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I find this a bit sad yet encouraging. I’ve posted on our Facebook page.