Every Thanksgiving, all of us – even those of us who are constantly mired in the chaos of our lives – turn our attention to all of the blessings in our life for which we are thankful. Or, at minimum, we feel that we should. If you are anything like me, some days the goodness in your life is crystal clear and screaming out loud to you and sometimes you have to dig very deep to pull up even one example of why it is worth getting out of bed each day. Hopefully the former is the rule with the latter the exception and the sum of your life is such that you feel grateful for all that has been offered to you.
This Thanksgiving was one of the ones that I struggled to find the silver lining. It has been a really tough year. My strength and mettle has been tested and, on most days, I focus more deeply on the lessons learned and the positive outcomes of some very trying times. However, on my “bipolar” days, I spend much more time living in the depths of my morass questioning everything and sure of nothing. In the spirit of being thankful and grateful, I dug deep this year and tried to really focus on what makes my life special and rewarding and the goodness that surrounds me. I recognized and gave appreciation for being a woman with a wonderful little family – a husband and two children – that I love more than anything and a large assortment of friends and acquaintances that provide the texture and depth to my life. All the other pieces of the equation are inconsequential compared to the stuff that really matters – the people who share this crazy ride with you.
Today on Black Friday 2011, which started with a foolish but fun journey out with the crazies who began shopping at midnight (we had a bit too much to drink and it seemed like an adventure that would be worthy of many stories for years to come) and continued through sleep deprivation and overspending on items that my kids #reallydontneed, I made a great effort to continue my Thanksgiving weekend tradition of organizing the massive containers of Legos and purging toys and games that my children have outgrown. It appears that my house has become more of a mess than I had been willing to pay attention to and there were piles of junk in every room. In my journey of organization, I came upon my long-lost Sony Handycam camcorder which I had actually been trying to find in order to pass it down to my 11 year-old son who has taken to making videos with his friends with the sole intent of posting on youtube.
I was so excited to have been reunited with this device which I believed had long ago joined the many other electronic and other items that disappeared in the back of a closet, at the bottom of a drawer or in the deep dark recesses of my basement. When I thought about it, hoping to find it to give to my son, it never ever occurred to me that the camcorder had become a relic that had quickly gone the way of the record player, VCR and film camera. I assumed, as any modern mac-user would, that with the all-powerful USB cord, I would be able to capture the treasured memories that were currently living on Mini DV tapes and watch them to relive the early childhoods of both of my children. Much to my amazement and disappointment, the camera was so antiquated that not only could my mac (or my husband’s PC) not even communicate with the device, Sony no longer offered the CDs for the software that enabled any kind of technological communication. And there I was, sitting at my kitchen table, with great anticipation to cut up these videos, share them on Facebook and add them to my ever-expanding collection of digital media chronicling my children’s life in the new millennium. What a conundrum.
After making every last attempt to find some type of connection, I threw in the towel and, instead of watching the rapid transfer of data, I sat back and started watching hours of videotape on the tiny little camcorder screen. My children and husband joined me at varying intervals to ooh and aah, laugh and marvel at how much had changed over the years. I watched these videos trying to patch together the history of my life as a wife and mother, noticing the physical changes of my body (looking much better now, thankyouverymuch), the adorableness of my kids, and the deterioration of my home. How did the clean and spacious space that my husband and I bought 13 years ago after we had scraped together the few dollars we had managed to save turn into this broken down, cluttered mess? What happened to the sweet nursery with the lovely border and clean beige rug that now resembles a dorm room in a frat house with an overabundance of NERF guns, half-assembled LEGO sets and stains from the accidental dog pee incident or spilled drinks (that were never supposed to make it up to their rooms)?
I tried to hold back the judgment of myself and my family and waste the effort pondering how others might have handled the journey of a growing family and an old house (and, remarkably less and less money to acquire lovely new furnishings). I tried not to eviscerate myself as punishment for not being able to care for houseplants which lovingly decorated my home back when I had one small child and much more time to tend to the critical needs of others besides my parasitic offspring. I simply watched the videos and worked hard to just focus on the magical moments of my precious babies through the years.
The bittersweet process of walking down memory lane was a perfect culmination of my Thanksgiving celebration because it allowed me to take a moment to focus on that which is most important to me and be grateful that I had been blessed with children and memories that will make my life more rich and meaningful in ways that I could never have imagined when my carpets were clean, my house was uncluttered, my plants were thriving and my face had far fewer lines. After a year which has challenged my faith and my belief in myself at times, I am grateful to have stumbled upon these tapes deep amid my clutter and to have been forced to watch them in the old fashioned way. Tomorrow I will bring these tapes to be converted to DVDs so I can transfer them to my mac to create special memories that you can all see on my Facebook page. And so will end another era in my life.
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to all. Please tell me what you are grateful for!