By Melissa Chapman
About the Writer:
Melissa Chapman and her brood of three live in the urban, concrete jungle of NYC – that’s two kids and her dog. Oh and she’s got a husband too.
Since my father died, everything about my life has been turned on its head. Those incontrovertible truths which were the pillars of my world, came crashing down. Religion, the existence of God, my value system. The revelation of the impermanence of my life all became blurred.
I was raised to be God-fearing. With the belief that if you followed the rules of the Old Testament -- doing so showed God your servitude, and ultimately your life in this world would be rewarded. For me, the reward was not wealth. It was the promise of health, and the belief that good deeds did not go unnoticed.
In the six months since my father's passing, this basic tenet I essentially guided my life by seems to have unraveled. I think about my father -- a survivor of the Holocaust who spent 18 hours a day at a job he disdained -- died practically penniless ( although rich in love) and suffered through so many chronic, debilitating illnesses. He never managed to achieve that financial success he'd dreamt about as a hard-working immigrant to the US, and his family, all survivors themselves, had a hard time grappling with life after having lived through such a harrowing near death experience as the Holocaust.
And yet in his life he taught me so many lessons about forgiveness, living in the moment, honesty, respect and appreciating what seems like the small and mundane -- but are truly the details which sustain and define us as individuals and make our life experiences so much richer.
I am trying to keep these memories, these life lessons with me and top of mind -- especially during the holidays, when I'm feeling resentful at the universe for not granting me more time with my beloved father. I am trying to see this Thanksgiving as I know he would -- finding those blessings that might appear to be minuscule, but are worth celebrating.
My dad would appreciate every scrumptious morsel of food, he'd look around at his grandchildren, he'd bask in the moments of quiet -- and those of kids screaming, fighting and laughing -- and he'd smile. My dad always taught us (or tried) to keep our expectations to a minimum, so that whatever we were blessed with would feel that much more abundant.
I can’t say I'm feeling very Thankful -- I'm still angry -- I'm still incredibly sad, but this Thanksgiving I will try and emulate the expectations I know my dad would have and remember that even if he is no longer physically here -- the intangible memories and experiences he graced me with -- will live on within me for the rest of my lifetime.
How are you dealing with your Thanksgiving expectations this year? Here is a link to helping loved ones with the holiday blues. I hope it might help you!