My dad, who just turned 86, fell in the shower not long ago. He banged up his elbow pretty badly and needed stitches. He then developed an infection, which did not respond to antibiotics, and ended up in the hospital having surgery on his arm. He’s now at a care center that provides rehab and therapy.

So my husband, my sister and I decided to drive to Chicago over the Thanksgiving weekend and spend time with family there rather than celebrating the holiday here at home. Since my husband’s parents live in the same area, we divided our time between both sides of the family.

My sister – the one who lives near my dad, not the one who lives near me in Minnesota – was planning to host Thanksgiving dinner at her house. But since my dad was able to come home from the care facility for a few hours on Thanksgiving Day, she decided to transport everything over to his house instead. That way he could celebrate Thanksgiving in his own home, and he’d have fewer stairs to negotiate than he would at her house. Although this required some extra work on my sister’s part, she just shrugged it off, saying that doing it this way meant she didn’t have to spend as much time cleaning her house.

Although we caught up with everyone at my dad’s later on in the evening, my husband and I had Thanksgiving dinner at the home of my in-laws, where my nephew prepared the feast. He enjoys cooking, is an excellent cook, and was gracious enough to include two more people at the last minute without batting an eye. I had emailed him before Thanksgiving, asking what I could bring or do to help with the meal, and he emailed back saying that the food was all taken care of, and we should just concentrate on having a safe trip.

Now that we’re back at home, I’m just shaking my head thinking of all the juggling and adjusting everyone was doing throughout the holiday weekend, and how accommodating everyone was in the process. Especially at a time of year when many people are stressed enough already by holiday plans and preparations, and by the extra work and activities that come with the holidays – let alone last-minute changes in schedule, timing, and location.

Compared to everyone else, I had it easy. I wasn’t the one who was injured and recovering, or who was cooking and cleaning for the holidays. I didn’t have to do the driving or the scheduling, or any of the “heavy lifting” that goes along with putting on a big family celebration, the kind for which we all truly give thanks. Maybe that makes it easier for me to see and be grateful for the “blessing in disguise” aspect of the holiday we just celebrated. But I’m pretty sure everyone else felt it, too.

The whole experience made me even more aware of things I’m grateful for. And even though Thanksgiving is now behind us, I am giving thanks for them all over again.

I’m thankful that my father wasn’t more seriously injured when he fell, and that he is receiving care and attention as he recovers and regains his strength. I’m thankful we got to see him, as well as my husband’s parents, over the holiday weekend. I’m thankful for the extra time I got to spend with my sisters and their families, as well as with a beloved aunt and nephew on my husband’s side of the family.

In spite of the difficulties and dilemmas we were dealing with, we shared laughs and jokes and games throughout the weekend, and I’m thankful for all the fun we had doing that.

Mostly, I’m thankful to be a part of families that care, that share, that look out for one another. And that always give me so much to be thankful for.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 5, 2013.
©Betty Liedtke, 2013

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