November 19, 2011

And, now, for that marvelous month...November!

Even though the snow in the previous post melted within a matter of days (thank goodness!), it has taken me much longer to recover from that startling shock to the visual landscape out my windows, and to my system.

I am not a fan of snow. I needed the autumn to be autumnal, not winter-like. Once the snows receded, the green grass and orange and yellow leaves on the trees re-emerged to make the scenery much more typical for early November. And now, it's nearly Thanksgiving.

While all the brilliant colors of fall have given way to the stark, leafless landscape of winter, I'm continuing to celebrate the season with a few displays of color inside the house. And I'm starting to think about the festivities of fall, the cornucopias and the sumptuous dining of Thanksgiving.

I'll be joining friends for Thanksgiving this year, having hosted more than my share of celebrations, and having no family living nearby any longer. I don't mind, in fact, these friends of many years are, in many ways, as close as family to me and that's a great comfort.

I celebrated a birthday this month. Not a monumental one, mind you, but a birthday nonetheless. And just a day before, I learned that one of my friends of many decades with whom I unfortunately hadn't been in close touch in some years, had passed away. Actually, she died quite some time ago.

It was sad news to learn rather unexpectedly, and I discovered it when I read that her mother had died more recently. My friend's passing saddened me, but it wasn't surprising news, since I'd known she'd had a long history of medical issues. Still, I'd thought she'd gotten it all under control and had gone on from the illness that had plagued her 20s - when we first met - to reach a ripe adulthood. It just wasn't meant to be a very long life, apparently, but it was a life very well lived for another 35 years, and she lived it to the fullest, as I knew she would.

She left a beloved husband of many years, grown children - probably her greatest joy and certainly her proudest accomplishment - and she left many good friends. For me, while our contact was sporadic, our friendship was constant...not one that required frequent contact, for when we were in touch, it was as if no time had passed. She had a full and busy life, and mine took me in another direction personally, professionally and geographically, but that shared experience of our young adulthood was our common ground. I'll always treasure that time we shared many decades ago and I'll miss her. I wish I had known she wasn't doing well so I could have told her how important she was to me in my young life and how much I wish we could have spent more time in touch over the decades. But, alas, it was not to be...

So as I look ahead to Thanksgiving, I think about those who filled my holiday table over the years, parents and elder family members now gone; a few dear friends now gone, too. The memories of those good times provide the frame of reference for my life. Those who will surround holiday tables now become more important to me than ever. They are the new "family," and are part of my new reality.

As you enjoy your Thanksgiving, look around at those near you. Celebrate them and the good fortune to experience a special holiday that's all about giving thanks. I know I will.