Printed on: November 19, 2013

A time for gratitude

The holidays are upon us, ready or not. We're seeing ads in the papers and television commercials ringing little tinkling bells, supposedly getting us in the mood for what is sure to be the most wonderful time of year. And if we can manage to keep ourselves focused on the true meaning of the season, it can be a wonderful time. I try my best not to make it a commercialized nightmare.

As I reflect on this time of year, memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas past come to me, and they are a very different picture of what it looks like for me today. The best thing about this time of year, for my family, was having everyone gathered together. I was always so excited waiting for my older brothers and sisters to get home, even if it was for a short visit. It truly was the most wonderful time.

We never had much, but we didn't know we were poor. Somehow, my folks always managed a turkey for Thanksgiving, but Christmas dinners are a little foggy for me, probably because of everything else going on. I know my mom always made something wonderful for us with whatever she had available, and she baked the best molasses cookies this side of anywhere. I look back with warmth and wonder at my childhood memories, untethered by responsibility and free from worry. We really weren't poor, I suppose, by our standards, and it was because we had each other and we knew it. Gifts were cherished because we all knew how hard our folks worked to provide for us and we appreciated what they did.

It was a special time when we all got to be a whole family again, and it meant everything. We put the fun in dysfunction, don't get me wrong, but we always pulled together because we loved each other. Happy to be a family and close once again, enjoying the season and the warmth that came from the little house in the country that I will always call home. We still love each other, but my siblings and I don't see one another often. Everyone is scattered across the country, busy with lives of their own, and we have learned to be grateful for a phone call now and then.

I am so blessed to have my husband and my extended family here in Idaho, and I never take that for granted. Life takes many turns, and this is the time of year that we are reminded of how grateful we should be for our loved ones still able to come together to celebrate the season.

I hope you, too, have memories that warm your heart.

Smith is retired and lives in St. Anthony with her husband.