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Oh boy, here they come. The holidays! You can’t really ignore them, but they are going to be different because that special person in your life is no longer going to be sharing the day with you. So, what do you do?
First, acknowledge your loss and be aware that you need a plan. Thanksgiving isn’t just another day unless it has been just another day for you in the past. So, what will change? Losing someone you love always leaves an empty space in your life so how will Thanksgiving be different this year?
For some it may mean you no longer have a place to gather. For others it may mean no one knows how to cook the turkey, make the dressing, or smooth gravy. Maybe you lost the one who carved the bird or said the blessing.
Regardless, you need a plan. The time to deal with the loss of the gravy maker is not at the last minute when the turkey comes out of the oven. A sudden realization catching everyone off guard is likely to intensify and expand the feeling of loss and your day may fall apart entirely. Plan in advance and give the gravy job to another family member. Be prepared for a different sort of gravy. There may be lumps, it may come from a box, it might be better or worse, but it will all right.
If you are going to be alone this year, consider inviting others who don’t have family close at hand to join you. Make Thanksgiving a potluck. After all, that’s what the first Thanksgiving was…people sharing the bounty of the harvest.
This year be sure that you include some acknowledgement of the one who died in your plans for the day. Maybe you pull out the photo albums after dinner and just express your gratitude for the good days with your loved one. Maybe you include your thanks in the blessing before the meal, or have everyone share something special about your loved one as you gather around the table. Yes, it is difficult, but don’t forget to look for the positives. They are there, you just have to find them.
Because you are there we all sleep better at night. You serve in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Some of you serve for two years, some for twenty or more. Some enter into service at a tender age looking for opportunity. Some are following a longstanding family tradition. You are mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. We, thank you for your service.
You spend days, weeks, and even years away from your family. You are not always there to teach your daughter to ride her bike; perhaps you missed your son’s first steps. Because you serve, you can’t always be counted on to attend the baseball game or the teacher conference. With your service comes sacrifice. Sacrifices made by both you and your family. We thank you and your family for your service.
Thank you for being ready and on alert so that we can go about our business without even thinking about the “what ifs”. Thank you for putting yourself in harms way. Thank you for giving us your time, your energy and your youth. Thank you for representing us with honor where ever you are stationed.
Regardless of whether you serve us at home or in foreign lands, in time of war or peace, we thank you for your service.
On Memorial Day we remember those who gave their lives in our service, on Armed Forces Day we honor those currently serving. On Veterans Day we honor all who have served our country from the Revolution in 1776 to today. Thank you.