A Virtual Thanksgiving Feast

I have resisted the pervasive push to post daily reasons why I am thankful. It’s not because I’m not thankful, I am very thankful. However, I don’t feel like it needs to be broadcast to everyone.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite family. It was a quiet holiday that meant the coming together of family. Family that didn’t always like one another but always loved one another. These were big, boisterous events that you went into with great excitement but eventually at some point you were mildly sick of these people.

However, once dinner hit the table and your favorite uncle said grace, “Bless us oh Lord, for these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen” while our deaf, great grandfather screamed in the background, “Dear Lord,” everything was forgiven. My cousins and I surrounded the kids table openly and loudly wondering what we had to do to make it to the adults table and all secretly thankful that we were at the kids table.

There was no reason to expound the reasons that we were thankful. All we had to do was look around the room at three and eventually four generations and we knew why we were thankful, words weren’t needed.

Those boisterous events don’t happen anymore. We are all far flung and have our own lives. And, a small part of me misses those moments. I don’t like that my own son doesn’t get to experience that familial sense. My husband and I have created our own traditions and we cherish and protect them fiercely. However, a small part of me wouldn’t mind one last chance to sit crowded around that table and have one last meal.

Alas, that really isn’t possible. So, now I am creating my own tradition. I have a virtual table where I get to invite anyone that I want to sit with me and be thankful.  My table is full of friends, both new and old. Each of these individuals enriches my life in their own way. Some do it daily and some less frequently but equally as importantly. So, without further ado, here is who is invited to my virtual thanksgiving table and why:

  • Katrina Pruitt-Andrews – She would be at the head of the table. She is the sister of my heart. She makes me laugh out loud regularly. When I am blue, annoyed or pick an adjective, she is the person I call who never fails to make me feel better. She gets added bonus points for being part of my rapture team and going to a play in London with me so that I didn’t make a complete idiot of myself as I had my fangirl moment (oh yeah, she took the picture). I wish she lived closer so that we could have real holidays together.
  • Amy Jagenow – My other “Sister”. She is one of the few people who have a sicker sense of humor than I do. From random texts that make me laugh at the oddities of every day life (running serpentine patterns to avoid the alligators in order to not run by the haunted house still makes me laugh) to wandering phone calls where we talk about everything and nothing, she is my person. Plus, she shares my love of great purses and is going to be my roommate when we run away from home to live in London for the rest of our lives. It will be very the “L Word” without the L because we both think we would giggle too much.
  • Sharon Fulton – I know this amazing woman from work. Four times a year for four years she corralled me and a colleague while hosting a webinar. Through that and a love for PF Changs, she became a permanent part of my life. We don’t work together anymore but she is never far from my thoughts. Plus, once you take someone to the doc in a box for an illness we shall never talk about it again, you can’t not be friends.
  • Mindy Swann Carlos – This would the other person with a weirder sense of humor than me. She makes me laugh out loud almost every single day. She is my daily reminder to not take like so seriously. Life tried to knock her down and she got back up, kicked life in the balls and said you will not defeat me. There is something pretty special about that.
  • Addie Boone – Finally, an actual family member makes the cut. She is an awesome woman who has made an amazing life for her and her family.  She is an inspiration and I love her with all my heart. Plus, she is the one family member that understands why I don’t really hang around with my family much anymore.
  • Jennifer Bennett – Another family member makes the cut. Jenny has grown into an amazingly compassionate woman. She is funny and irreverent and has the best ability to laugh at herself. I wish she lived closer so I could spend more time with the woman she has become.
  • Jennifer Spillers-Barton – I can’t possibly say enough nice things about this fantastic woman. She is my oldest and dearest friend. I can go years without speaking with her (and it has happened) and we can connect and it’s like I saw her yesterday. I can’t remember a time in life that I didn’t know her. We will be those two old broads in the nursing home drinking whisky and pinching the asses of the hot orderlies. I look forward to that. My secret wish is that Parker and LizClaire fall in love and get married so that we can be tied together even more deeply.
  • Andrew Robinson – My soul mate, other husband, fellow musical/Christmas music, madrigal devotee. He gives without a doubt the best hugs of any person on the planet. He embraces you with his fully body and soul. I smile merely thinking about it.
  • Jordi Gallego – The brother I never knew I wanted. We can talk about anything. If you doubt it, you should have seen the shocked faces of the people on the Tube as he told me about his return from Colombia.
  • Jerry & Vickie Stowers – Or as I think of them mom & dad. They are two of the kindest people on the planet. Spending time with them is more like hanging out with friends than parents. Plus they are pretty spectacular grandparents and they are fun to travel with which from me is the highest compliment I can pay.
  • Ricky & Micki Smith – Honorary uncle and aunt. Ricky is hands down one of the funniest people I know and Micki is possible the sweetest person I know. We aren’t related by blood but that doesn’t matter, they are family.
  • Liz & David Garland and their adorable son Gabriel – The only people in the world I have ever set up. It took me the better part of a year and I still had to trick them (Thank God one of Liz’s nieces had that first communion). I knew they were opposite sides of a coin that belonged together. I don’t get to see them much anymore but every time I do it can’t last long enough.
  • Ida Knapp – She is the dazzling woman that gave Liz her life’s blood. She is lovely and gracious and one of my absolute favorite people on the planet. When I gained Liz as a friend I also gained her mother. I really came out for the best in that equation.
  • Jenny Sokoloski – A brand new friend who makes me laugh so regularly that it should be illegal. She has been reading a piece I am writing and providing helpful insight even if she doesn’t really like where it’s going. She is a tiny, sassy, sparkly cucumber with a twisted dark side that surprises me all the time. She helps me with plot points. I hope she will still like me when Laura ends up with Jack.
  • Barry White – I saved the best for last at this table. My amazing husband who makes me a better person on a regular basis. He is an amazing father, husband, friend and person. He puts up with all of my craziness and loves me anyway. Plus he likes everything I cook and will more than likely have been the guinea pig for all items on the table.

And, that’s my virtual Thanksgiving table. I think it will be a fantastic dinner party. There will be no children’s table at this feast but I couldn’t bear the thought of not having them all close. I promise lots of booze, amazing food and I know that at least three people at the table will hear “Dear Lord” in their heads as someone says the blessing. That is something to be truly thankful for this holiday season.


November is Epilepsy Awareness Month

Almost four years ago, our lives were changed forever. One minute I was rushing around last minute packing for an international trip, the next the airline was calling to say my flight was cancelled. Now, we had a full weekend to do whatever we wanted. I ran to get us breakfast at the local donut shop. As I was setting the table, my husband called our son down.

Like all little boys, he jumped those last two steps. He landed pretty hard took two more steps and then collapsed. I heard my husband call his name several times and each time was slightly more panicked. I rounded the corner from the kitchen to find my son on the floor having a seizure. We promptly called 911 and waited desperately anxious for the paramedics to arrive.

By the time they arrived, he was back to normal. But, off to the children’s hospital we went. In the ER, we were taken back pretty quickly. He was given a CT scan and admitted. As scary as all of that was, the thing that stood out, for me, was my husband freaking out at the cafeteria worker who was trying to take the dinner order for our son. My normally calm and collected husband was going bat guano crazy. Generally I am the one who gets wound. But, on this day, at this moment, it was him. I had to intervene and calm the ruffled feathers.

Since we knew we were spending the night, I ran home to get a few things for the little guy and the big guy. Since we didn’t know how long we would be in the hospital we had already started dividing shifts – husband had the night shift, I would take the day shift.

Luckily, we didn’t need to make the adjustments. We went home the next day with a diagnosis of epilepsy. This started our journey into epilepsy. We have been through multiple medicines, a kiddo who had to wear a hockey helmet to school daily, more trips to the ER than I care to count, a tethered spinal cord surgery and 2 major brain surgeries.

The kiddo still needs twice daily medication and will likely need it for the rest of his life. However, we are the lucky ones. Our son can control his seizures via medication. Many others can’t. So, in honor of this, I am turning my page purple. The only way we can create awareness is to talk about.

Someone I love more than life itself has epilepsy. I wear purple for him.