What’s On My Platter Today


I don’t mean to sound prissy or anything, but when you make gratitude an inherent part of your life, it’s almost hard to make a list of what you’re grateful for on this day that comes around once a year bearing the word “thanks.” I started writing, saying, living expressed gratitude several years ago – maybe initially from a tinge of conditioned guilt (“Think about those poor starving children in China” and “Who do you think you are, Missy?” – that kind of thing), then after a while the conditioning fell away and goodness took its place, and next thing I knew, I’m just sending thank you notes and not even remembering that I did. Oh, I remember the people and the acts and attributes I’m grateful for, I just don’t always remember sending the actual note. And I’m not sure how to take that, but I don’t fret so much about it any more, trusting that it’s enough knowing I send the notes from a sincere place of deep thanking and let it go without any strings.

[ :: ]

I miss my son today. Which is not to say that I’m not absolutely delighted to be with my husband, daughter, and mother – it’s not as simple as the glass being half-full or half-empty – it’s only to say that I miss my son. We’ve come to that point in our lives when I see him about once a year on every-other big holiday. Me, the Penultimate Queen of Preparedness, the only fourth grader in town to have built a full-equipped bomb shelter for her family . . . I never prepared for this. It’s not the turkey we eat, you understand, it’s the turkey in the stories we share that Kipp and I love about Thanksgiving. I miss him, and my brain can hiss all sorts of words at me about being unattached and letting go and how he’s not really my son, and in response I say simply I’ve never aspired to be Enlightened.

I miss my daddy, too. The last Thanksgiving we “had him” as we say around here, he was a bit removed from the hilarity, and I sensed on that day that he might be leaving us.

I miss my nephew, TJ, too, and his artful eye and surprising insightfulness. He usually travels with us, but he’s a college freshman now, and exams loom large so he can’t take the time away from study hall.

And I miss my dog Phoebe. She’s still alive, thank goodness, but I am not with her, and I miss those soulful eyes that peer deep into my soul and end every one one of those conversations-without-words with an unspoken “I love you anyway.”

[ :: ]

We’ve been hearing a lot of Christmas carols the past couple of days, and a few of them can pep me up, but most of them tap into my deep sorrow, and I don’t really know why, but this whole season is rather sad to me. (Sometimes I sense it has to do with what amounts to Great Big Lies we’re told before our critical thinking skills have taken hold.) (And when I say “lies” I’m not just talking about Santa, it’s bigger than that – like how if we’re good, we’ll get what we want and how happy is the only game in town – those kinds of lies.) Oh, if we happen to be together during this time of year, I won’t burden you with my sorrow – that’s what my journal is for – but it’s there, and this year I will not wag a finger at myself, spouting all the scoldings about how it’s the happ-happiest time of the year, the most wonderful season of all, and all that. Just so you know: I do wish I could be the posterchild for happiness and gaiety – I really do – because it makes it so much easier for everybody else, but it’s just time to lay down some of those I-do-this-for-you obligatory burdeny kinds of things.

I don’t know about what I just wrote. Seems I need a wee little bit of clarity here . . . I am not morose, not moping my way through the day with a sad face that begs folks to tell me to turn upside down. I simply choose to not muster the energy it takes to cover the sadness. I am sad AND I am not sad. All at once, all in the space of a day. On any given moment of any given day, I am polarities. Now I’ve muddied it more than ever, I suppose.

Well, Pfffft. I think I’ll go laugh and love that incredibly patient and loving husband of mine, who travels with three generations of Hewell women, never uttering the first complaint (I guess he carries that around in the same pocket I carry my sorrow in); with my Mother, who I’m enjoying like never before (perhaps because we’re both being honest like never before?); and my daughter, who is so much fun (we pretty much wrote a play on the way down last Tuesday, and laughed – oh my goodness, how we have laughed). I will go sit and let the unending sound, the unimaginable enormity, and the undemanding horizon of the ocean wrap itself around me. I’ll ask the waves to help me roll this into something presentable, then we’ll go fetch Nancy and take her for an early Thanksgiving dinner, and all along the way, I’ll honor and love and be grateful for those I love from afar as well as those I love from a chair away.


  1. Julie Daley

    Grateful for you and our friendship, love.

    • whollyjeanne

      And I for you. Love you big.

  2. glennis

    i’ll have some of what you’re having…much thanks and giving to you my friend.

    • whollyjeanne

      oh glennis. one day we’ll meet in person, and i expect much juicy conversation and hilary will naturally ensue. much thanks and giving right back to you, too. xo

  3. ☆little light☆

    I know that missing my son , and I know that melancholy well. I also know that it’s tucked in a pocket, and I am smiling and stitching and feeling blessed at all the things I am grateful for. Have a wonderful family day today missy…(((HUGS)))

    • whollyjeanne

      as i wrote this post today, i had another image for a cloth with pockets. i hope you have a fine day, and that’s no turkey stuffing, either. xo

  4. Merry ME

    My west coast family has gathered for a mini-reunion in San Diego. Until yesterday I’ve been ok with not being there. But as I started feast preparations, I started remembering times past. The laughter mostly over not so funny things. I always feel better when I read what my wise blog friends have to say. When I say my prayers tonight I’ll be full of thank you’s for people like you.

    • whollyjeanne

      It’s the missed laughter that rubs salt in the holes in my heart. So thankful for you – your humor and your wisdom and your friendship. xx

  5. Brenda Lynch

    Your words somehow got out of my heart and onto your page–how does that happen–I visited Southwest Christian Hospice this morning–my Mama died there-anyway, I was so sad on the way there and missed her terribly–after my visit, I picked up my sweet Daddy to bring him to my house for “dinner” and went from sad to happy and thankful to still have him. Our table is so different without my Mama –we all miss her and I looked from face to face and can see inside the pain of her being gone (4years and it never goes away)–then in a blink of my eyes I see smiling faces and happy family–even a smile on my Daddy’s face! I too am thankful for all these things everyday!!

    • whollyjeanne

      “4 years and it never goes away” – so true, Brenda. This kind of thing knows no calendar, has no ending. And neither does the happiness and enjoyment of being with those “in the next chair.” Changes in a snap, doesn’t it? Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. Sounds like it was a good one. xo

  6. angelakelsey

    I love each post more than the last. xo

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you. At least they’re getting shorter, so maybe that means I’m getting clearer in my confusion? XO

  7. Jane Cunningham

    sad and not sad you are a strong enough container to hold that enormity my friend… the thought of the 3 generations of women and your man together makes my heart happy <3

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