By A.J. Llewellyn
I have so much to be thankful for this year and I am kinda excited it's my turn at the wheel here at The Many Shades of Life and Love on this special day because it is my favorite holiday.
I never celebrated it until I moved here in 1984. I was a student then and living with a family who fell on severely hard times almost as soon as my dad organized for me to stay with them.
The mom, who was a district rep, lost her job at Avon and in short order, she lost her car and a bunch of other stuff.
It was the first time I realized how many people here live "one paycheck away from disaster."
I could have called my dad back in Australia and said, "Get me out of here" but I felt a sense of loyalty when she was trying so hard to make things good and fun for her family and for me. I remember that Thanksgiving looked kinda lean. She bought turkey parts because they were cheaper than the whole bird and a ton of vegetables.
Since I am a vegetarian I got to enjoy tasty sides and confess that candied yams became one of my many food obsessions.
Dessert was - and we still make jokes about this - a packet of M and Ms which we all shared. I think I got three.
The best surprise was that the next day we went out and bought a Christmas tree. I'd never had a live, fresh tree in my life since Christmas in Australia is summer and at that time, they didn't exist.
In hindsight, it was an extravagance, but it was one I will never forget.
I buried my face in that tree and I think my enthusiasm transmitted itself to everyone in the family.
I love Christmas because it was the last time I saw my mom laughing and happy and able to sit up before colon cancer claimed her.
But Thanksgiving is the time I also love because her dear friend who has also since succumbed to the Big C wanted so badly to give me a chance at having a mom and a loving family here in the US.
And she did. I am still close to her kids and I still make egg salad sandwiches the way she taught me. I think of her often and I cannot smell any kind of bubble bath without thinking of all the bottles of it she had in her massive bathroom.
She was a generous soul who gave everybody samples of Avon and who was a fantastic saleswoman but this current economic climate isn't the only time people have lost jobs.
I learned from her that there are valuable, treasured moments each and every day and to gather them, much like you would shells on the sand. And I do.
I am grateful to have good health (in spite of my sweet tooth and a tendency toward high stress) and I am thankful my animals are in good health.
I am grateful for my friends and family - scattered all over the world.
I am most especially grateful to my lovely friend CR Moss who approached me to be a contributing member of this blog. She is an awesome lady and an incredible writer. I will never forget that she once emailed me, a total stranger then with articles on Hawaii that she thought would inspire a book or two.
I am grateful to know all the other authors I also share this blog with. Lynn Crain is another awesome author and a sweet woman who really is one of the first I got to know through our publisher at eXtasy Books and of course my writing partner Stephani Hecht, the lovely, lavish Erin Sinclair and I often chat and Jambrea Jo Jones I've seen emerge from M/M fan to full-fledged author. Patti Shenberger, Celia Jade, Courtney Breazile and the adorable Annie Alvarez are also terrific, talented people.
We have some newbies on board I don't know yet but I look forward to doing so.
Most of all, I wish all our readers a wonderful day, whether you eat turkey or you don't, think fondly of your loved ones whether you always get along with them - or you don't.
I wish you a happy, peaceful, beautiful day.