Thanksgiving is upon us and many people are planning not only what they’ll cook for the holiday, but mapping out their routes and strategically deciding what items to buy on Black Friday.
While all of this is fine and well, it’s essential that we remember to be grateful for life because for some people, even planning one day in advance is not an option.
Consider these real-life scenarios:
The devoted mother
There’s a mother whose 40-year-old daughter has stage four cancer. Every time the family and doctors think they’ve resolved one aspect of the patient’s declining health, something else happens, threatening the daughter’s chances of survival.
This woman and her family can’t plan ahead, because they don’t know what new obstacle is before them. The devoted mother’s challenge is everyday worrying and wondering if her daughter will live to see another day.
The Parkinson’s patient
A once resilient, take charge man finds himself doing his normal routine of dressing for the day. Everyday, this man wore a necktie, however, on one particular day he looks in the mirror a bit puzzled because he’s suddenly unable to tie his necktie.
It was during this time that his wife knew something was seriously wrong with her husband. In addition to Parkinson’s this man also suffers from dementia.
Obsessing over what to serve for Thanksgiving dinner or which sale items to buy were probably the least of this family’s concerns as they discussed the best way to care for the ailing head of their family.
The supportive siblings
There are five siblings who for over a decade have been assigned specific days of the week and alternating weekends to care for their mother who is a longtime Alzheimer sufferer. They pay a nurse to stay with their mom during the day so each of them can work. However, once off work, whomever’s “day” it is is responsible for feeding their mom dinner and spending time with her before changing, bathing and eventually putting her to bed. This routine is repeated on their assigned weekends – from Friday evening until Sunday evening.
For years, these brothers and sisters have unselfishly altered their lives to meet the needs of their mother. One of the driving forces behind this family’s decision to care for their mother is because they’re committed to never let her go to a nursing home or any other long-term facility.
Planning, for this family hasn’t been the same since their mother’s illness.
The surviving spouse
This Thanksgiving will be the first for a woman who has recently buried her husband after over four decades of marriage.
What was once a joyous family occasion, has now become one that she longs to skip…if only for this year. This loving wife is dreading Thanksgiving dinner – not because she’s not thankful, because she is; but more because her life partner who she loves with every ounce of her being isn’t here to share it with her.
She’d rather spend this Thanksgiving alone – with no visitors and no calls – just by herself and her memories of previous Thanksgiving dinners. Planning a big dinner is beyond her thinking at this point.
The cancer-stricken woman
The matriarch of one particular family was diagnosed with breast cancer and received a mastectomy within a month of each other last year. Since then, the cancer has returned and has affected her liver. Last week, this 74-year-old woman broke her hand and this week she underwent surgery to repair it. After surgery, her heart stopped twice, but doctors were able to revive her. Now the cancer has spread to her lungs and brain and the family has heard the five words no one wants to hear: “It’s a matter of time.”
Cooking a lavish meal and shopping for super deals seems insane to this family.
Being alive is a privilege that each of us are blessed with at this time. During Thanksgiving, I encourage you to enjoy your family traditions, but don’t get so caught up in the dinner and the deals that you forget to be thankful for the life God has given you. Don’t loose sight of the real blessings: life, health and family.
Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!