Friday, November 1, 2013

My Favorite Month

I love November. I love Thanksgiving. So many people have their favorite holidays. Usually you find that Christmas and Halloween are up there, followed by 4th of July and maybe even Easter. Thanksgiving has been almost run over by Black Friday, now starting on Thanksgiving evening/afternoon. Seriously? We can't have 1 day out 365 that we aren't focused on buying something, trampling over each other and can't just play a game or be still and watch a movie, maybe visit with family until whenever the shopping fools get up and go do whatever they do. ha. I just have no desire to ever do Black Friday. There IS a reason they call it black, right? Anyway, I just love thanksgiving. We come together, make a bounty of food and enjoy it as well as fellowship with closest family and friends and then rest. We watch football or take naps, sometimes at the same time, play games, catch up with the cousins, lounge in the recliner and read a book, and then go back for seconds and another piece of pumpkin pie. Maybe it seems gluttonous to some, but maybe it is an actual holiday where we aren't focused on GETTING anything. We don't stress and run around trying to find something to get someone with the little budget we have for them or going into debt trying to impress. We aren't disappointed if we only got a scarf and not some expensive gadget or wad of cash. We simply get together, to be together. Hopefully we all find ways to express our thankfulness for what WE ALREADY HAVE, not what WE WANT TO GET.

I have fond memories of thanksgiving. We had so many houses to go to because our families live here that we were always hopping from house to house, but each side has things I vividly remember. My mimi was an absolute wonder in the kitchen. She would make her list, shop, (three different stores, for the best deals) plan ahead by cooking certain things ahead, preparing other things the night before and then had a written schedule with times on it for when certain things went in the oven and when other things came out, when to set the table, what napkins to use and one year she made little place card sail boats out of pecan shells and toothpicks, with little white flag name cards. We used those for years. The family would squeeze at the table and pass around every dish, stuff our faces and visit, laugh and just be together. I know she relished those times and soaked every moment up.
My radiant Mimi (and pumpkin pie)
Mimi knew how to live richly. She made every holiday and every Friday night fried chicken dinner, every Sunday roast lunch, every half a grapefruit breakfast and a whole wheat bagel with coffee in the morning, matter. She just loved life. She rarely complained and Thanksgiving was her crown and glory. :) Christmas was a close second, but I just saw her glow and then an hour or so after the big dinner, she would get a piece of pecan pie, a little dollop of cool whip and savor each bite of that pie like she earned it. and she did.

The Byrd side ALWAYS has cheese grits (homemade by aunt linda), pink fruit salad (by gran), a kids table and a grown up table, cousin time, playing spy at the old house upstairs, group pictures, using the pretty dishes (even as kids we got to use neat dishes), green bean casserole and the pickle tray. I always ended up getting a bread and butter pickle on accident and had to sneak it to the trash. eew. Football naps and reading books are where you will find the Byrd/Goodell & now Weisgerber and Whitfield men after the meal. Most likely you will find all the Byrd girls around the table laughing and remembering old times, catching up each other on current events and just enjoying being together. When we were little, I can remember enjoying and sometimes getting wounded in a battle of spoons. :)

Thanksgiving is a nice long day of comfort all around.

Mimi's recipes in my kitchen. 
I got to where I was old enough to help with Thanksgiving cooking and so I learned to make Mimi's crescent rolls. Staci began making pies when Mimi couldn't quite muster the energy to do it anymore. Mom would make a small turkey and I would make Mimi's dressing. Not stuffing. Dressing. :)  We made things as close to how they were, but they weren't exact. That was ok though. Byrd Thanksgiving is still the same, sometimes with an empty seat, because we are all strung out about the state/country. Times change. This time last year I thought we would be home by Thanksgiving, but we weren't. In a few days, it will be a year since Noah had his 2nd open heart surgery to get his pace maker placed. I just sat in his cubicle knowing we wouldn't make it home for thanksgiving. Crushed you might say. God was working on me. I was feeling selfish and having a pity party that we wouldn't get to be home, around family, with our traditions and usual events. I was frustrated to say the least. I was so weary of the hospital, the lonely weeks, the fast weekends. Our sweet family in Ft Worth, of course, hosted Thanksgiving and we were welcome to be there and were thankful to as well. I wanted to be a part of it and so I thought I would make crescent rolls. I got up early and started the dough, let is rise, etc. It wasn't working out right. It was stiff and just not like it was supposed to be. I was frustrated, again. I gave up. I was going to throw the dough in the trash and send nick to walmart to get Mrs. Baird's brown and serve rolls (which are good by the way), and then go sit and pout the rest of the day about the failed attempt. My dressing turned out good. The rolls were to be my one thing from home that would make the tradition stay alive, since mimi wasn't. The first thanksgiving after Mimi passed away and I just could not go without crescent rolls. (i know, a lot of whining over bread) It was more than the bread though. It was the memories, the traditions, the feeling of abandonment from the Father, that Mimi wasn't here anymore, we were stuck in a town we didn't really know, our son was STILL sick, nothing was right, no one was in the right place, and God didn't seem to care. That was my heart. That was why I went in the bedroom and cried. I just cried and pouted. I showered, got ready to go throw the dough away and then talked to my mom. I remembered that mimi was an improviser. I thought, well, I will do what I can with the dough and see what happens. I rolled out the dough, cut rolls out and put them on a pan. I let them rise a little, as much as they would, and then put them in the oven. They were gone in about 15 minutes, once lunch began. I suppose they weren't too bad. They weren't actually crescent rolls. They were just plain ol rolls. They were a little dense and nothing like mimi's really, except that they were there, the dough wasn't sitting in the trash defeated. So, I was thankful for another Mimi lesson that day and soaked up the rest of the day with family, tried to enjoy taking turns going into Noah's room. (mom and dad stayed up there all day with him, so Ava could have some mommy and daddy time at a home, not the hospital) It was an interesting day, but we also go to spend time with family we never get to, we were made fully aware of how blessed we were, even in the middle of such hardship and hurt. Noah was in recovery mode still, during the weekend, but a few days before we had thanksgiving, I had been able to hold him for the first time, he had been taken off the ventilator for the first time(after 51 days) and he got to meet his uncle keith, see his grandma and mamaw and made some big Thanksgiving memories.  God always gives us something to be thankful for. always.
holding Noah a second time 

So, here we are. One year later. I look into November and remember making a thankful poster for Noah's room, instead of our thankful tree we always do. I remember fighting so hard to keep an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude even when I wanted to cry and whine every day. Somethings never change. I want to sit and cry and whine some days, that Noah isn't even here now. He doesn't get to be passed around at family gatherings, he won't know the taste of mommy's childhood thanksgivings, the joy it brings me to get up and watch the parade while making the dishes we bring to the family gatherings. I just wish that he could be a part of our lives in the tangible ways my heart wants. I know I know, he might not have even been able to be in crowds of family, enjoying life at all, depending on how severe his needs for oxygen were or how he felt on a daily basis, the issue of cold and flu season. I know, he is in a completely better place, in a way that I don't even understand yet. I know. I'm thankful. I don't need to be reminded that he is healed now. :) I know full well.

day before his pacemaker surgery
I'm thankful. November is a time to be thankful. For EVERYTHING, not just the things we like, the good things that make our life complete, but the things in our life that sometimes suck the life out of us. I'm not saying be thankful for things that are wrong, sinful or should be eliminated from our lives. Those things need to be repented of and dealt with. I 'm talking about being thankful for the things that seem inconvenient at the time, the things that are just not how we like them. Be thankful that you drive a 2000 model that runs well and doesn't require car payments, instead of whining about how you wish you had a newer one. Be thankful that your children leave messes, have a dirty room, maybe even drive you crazy, because you get to hug them, love on them, tuck them in at night and have them in your arms. Be thankful because some moms have sons and daughters over seas serving our country and their safety is in danger every minute of every day. Be thankful to have your husband or wife home with you because some people have been left in a position they never thought they would find themselves in this Thanksgiving, alone perhaps. Whether it is distance or severance, people will be lonely this holiday. Someone, somewhere is thinking of a loved one who passed recently or maybe a long time ago. A man or woman is sitting in a prison cell, truly repentful and seeking the Lord and misses his family. Another prisoner might be sitting in the cold concrete room angry at the world and wanting to give up on life at all. The holiday season isn't about YOU. I have come to realize that it isn't about thankful trees, pecan pies or crescent rolls but about a Savior and the life we have available to us because of that Savior. Do what you do, at each holiday, in light of that. Don't focus so much on the traditions and the must haves that we miss out on the could be's and the means for service, thankfulness, and love. (to others, not just ourselves)

one of very few family of 4 pictures. Thankful.

Today, Ava and I will start our thankful tree. I want to instill in her traditions and past times that she can look back on and smile upon or even carry on to her kids someday, but we will be adding some new things this year as well. Noah made us a better family. He MAKES us a better family. He is and forever will be our boy, even if he just made it home quicker than we did. So, we will continue to live thankfully and share our thankful hearts, the reason we can be thankful in such heartache, with others.
Find a way to show your thankfulness besides getting up at midnight on Black Friday and squishing people to buy an xbox or some big tv. Maybe think of something outside the "box" and let gratitude become expressed tangibly. There are plenty of people that need your love. They need your thankfulness to show, so they can catch some of the hope you have.

I know I feel challenged today.

May November continue to be my favorite, not just because of all the yummy traditions and super fun activities, but because in 2012 a little boy reminded me that life isn't about traditions but about the One who made a way. Made a way for Noah to be in heaven. Made a way that I can be there too, someday.

Anyone want to join in? Make November a month to remember, by finding ways to love and serve. (someone other than yourself) I know that focusing on the good will not always make it easier for me during the holidays, serving others doesn't always take the sting of the loss away. Missing Noah is an everyday occurrence, not just a holiday thing, but Mimi reminded me of "making the best of" any situation, even after she went home, and before Noah joined her. So, I WILL  make the BEST of this month, this holiday coming up, the pain I deal with so often, it all becomes a part of the journey and the journey is a good one.

Thanks as always, for riding this road with us, for the support and love we receive from each of you.
Be blessed this thankful season,

Noah's mommy

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