We had a wonderful evening last night celebrating Thanksgiving - I hosted my cousin and his two boys and his dad, my 92 year old uncle. My daughter brought two friends from work so we were a total of nine. As we sat down to dinner for a holiday feast, my cousin and I laughed at the size of the table as we gathered around. Usually I do Christmas dinner and there are about twenty of us there then because more people are home for Christmas. The smaller party gave us all a chance to appreciate the company of each other and talk a littlemore.
We have lost a few people through the years. My mother and my cousin, Chris, both died a few years ago, and my cousin's wife now lives in Florida full time. It reminded me of the song from Les Miserables, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.
There's a grief that can't be spoken
There's a pain goes on and on
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone
Thanksgiving is a time to remember people no longer with us - and express gratitude for the fact that they passed through our lives at all. We always play a game called Table Talk after we have finished eating. You take a card andanswer the question. We go around the table and everyone answers the same question. It is fun to hear people's different attitudes and responses. One question was if you could have a party anywhere and cost was no object, where would it be? Another question was "If you could do something dangerous without risk, what would you do?" The question though that was a real conversation stopper was "When was the last time you cried and why." My uncle said it was when his brother, my dad, died. Hearing him say that made me tear up!
But we have gained people too. My son got married and now his in laws join us. My son and his wife had a little boy, Hamilton, who will be fifteen months old at Christmas, so he and his high chair will join us at the table. My other cousin's daughter got married and now they are expecting. Next year there will be a new baby at the table. So as I look back, I also look forward with the belief that our circles are always expanding. Memories are wonderful because they keep loved ones with us and hope is wonderful because it reminds us that there will be new friends and new adventures to come.