Thanksgiving morning. We wake to a text from Mom, who misses me.
Next comes toast in the hotel lobby with David and his dad Mark. They head off to a flag football game and I add hot water to my tea cup.
Blue skies and a mountain view from the hotel room.
I iron my shirt and talk to my parents. Dad is making sweet potato souffle, my favorite. Mom is getting ready for our family’s annual Thanksgiving morning walk to Starbucks.
I am grateful to be in Colorado Springs. I’m grateful we’ll get to Skype with my family back in Havertown, too.
I sit down to work on my Thanksgiving newsletter blog: a roundup of 2013’s blessings. I get two sentences in and stop.
I turn on Sarah McLachlan’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” Around the holidays, Dad and I drive in the car and listen to Sarah McLachlan’s Christmas album over and over.
I lie back on the hotel bed and feel the ache of the holidays. I don’t mean the stress of shopping or travel. I don’t mean the social whirl or the winter chill.
The ache takes on different forms. Years ago it was a heartsick fear that my family couldn’t really understand me. Other years it’s been loneliness, confusion, exhaustion.
This year it’s the most beautiful of aches: the realization that I will never be able to be with everyone I love on a holiday. I’m so happy to be here with the Drapers. This family knows how to have a good time. I can’t wait to play spades tournaments and go on a scavenger hunt and toss a football beneath the Colorado skies.
But there won’t be any sweet potato souffle. I’m not walking with my family to Starbucks while Dad gets the turkey in the oven. I can’t roast the veggies or help Mom pick the tablecloth. I can’t vie for Lydia’s attention or quote old movies with my brothers.
So this morning I’m grateful for time and space to feel the ache. I give thanks for what I’m missing. I give thanks for being missed.