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Mini!Essay: What Thanksgiving Means to Me

Thirteen years ago, just before Thanksgiving, I had just gone out with heavy heart to buy two copies of two different Christmas ornaments. We were going to send one copy of each (one fragile ornament, and one nearly impossible to break ornament) off with our beloved seventeen month old foster daughter when she was sent off to live with her biological mother's brother and sister-in-law. She'd been with us since two weeks after her first birthday. The transfer was imminent, pending their official approval as foster parents in Kentucky where they resided. This way she would always have something tangible as evidence of her short stay in our lives. We would keep the duplicates for our tree, to mark her place in our hearts and our family.

Then, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, her aunt and uncle called to say that they had done their research on "artificial twinning" (they have a daughter whose birthday is just two weeks later than our then-foster daughter's) and had considered the effect on their niece of disrupting the bond she had started to develop with us, and had pondered and prayed, and had decided that the best thing would be to let her stay with us and be our daughter. A true act of trust and selfless generosity. Our two older kids stood speechless as we thanked them profusely, hung up the phone, and burst into tears of grateful relief, drawing them all into a family hug.

That year my oldest daughter was told in art class to make a placemat showing what she was thankful for. It was her sister. It takes pride of place on our table every Thanksgiving. At Christmas all four ornaments hang on the tree, until the day when she moves to a place of her own and takes her copies with her.

I am truly blessed. I have a soft life, and everything I need. Not everything I want, but that would be bad for me, and I know this. But that one moment, for me, will always flavor the thankfulness I feel on this holiday.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
codo1019
Nov. 26th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
Wow, what a story. You usually hear stories of selfish adults twisting the welfare of the child to fit their own needs and wants. It's nice to see that the adults, on both sides, sacrificed their own feelings to put the child first.
Have a nice Thanksgiving!
thothmes
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:23 am (UTC)
I will forever be grateful to her aunt and uncle. And I think it was a wise decision, in that the cousin who was going to become her near-twin is her polar opposite. Also a wonderful kid, but Very Different. Meeting the needs of both simultaneously was going to be one difficult parental tight wire act!

She does keep contact with that side of the family, and has been down on her own to visit. I feel that she's really a lucky kid in having so many people in her life that love and care for her.
beanpot
Nov. 26th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
I think this a testament to how amazing they are as people and how amazing you are as well.

Sometimes people really do amaze for all the right reasons.
thothmes
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC)
Oh, I don't think we're so wonderful. We've gotten more than we've given. But I think that there is always more beauty and grace in the people around us than we often think.

Two years ago when my daughter was 12 she went to Kentucky as an unaccompanied minor to stay with her birth-aunt (whom she had met several times before, and visited in Florida with us along) and meet the rest of that side of the family. They held a meet-and-greet party for her, and one elderly great aunt drove 3 hours to get a chance to meet her, and 3 hours back that same night. It was a wonderful chance for her to see that even though she came to us out of the fostercare system under fairly horrific conditions, she comes from great stock, and is loved.
aelfgyfu_mead
Nov. 26th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
That's truly wonderful.
thothmes
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:07 am (UTC)
It will always be one of the high points of my life. It was going to be so heart-wrenching to let her go, but I definitely understood why placement with relatives would take priority, given that they were safe, sane, good people.

Happy Thanksgiving!
a_loquita
Nov. 26th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)
What a beautiful thing, thank you for sharing with us and reminding us of what this holiday means. Have a happy Thanksgiving along with your family :)
thothmes
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:05 am (UTC)
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours too.
ziparumpazoo
Nov. 26th, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
It's not my thanksgiving weekend as we celebrate in October, but I am thnkful that there are people like your family out there have a wonderful holiday :)
thothmes
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:05 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was thinking as I sat through Mites hockey practice today how surreal it must be for our rink manager and his wife (Toronto natives - He keeps a signed Leafs jersey hanging in his office) to suddenly have this unaccustomed day off in late November, followed by tournament insanity over the next 3 days!

Really, the Canadian timing makes much more sense, since travel in October is seldom a mixed-precip horror, whereas November is about the peak for that sort of thing around here. But late November is where Sarah Josepha Hale wanted it, and she was apparently a determined woman! But then mixed precip is less hazardous at 7 km/hr in a buggy or sleigh than at 100 km/hr on the Interstate.
mrspollifax
Nov. 26th, 2009 04:48 am (UTC)
What a wonderful story - thank you for sharing it. I hope you and your family have a very happy holiday.
thothmes
Nov. 26th, 2009 05:24 am (UTC)
Thank you. And a very happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
bluewillowtree
Nov. 26th, 2009 06:36 am (UTC)
This made me teary in the best possible way. I think it's wonderful that your daughter was able to stay with you and stay in contact with her other family as well.

I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving! *hugs*
thothmes
Nov. 26th, 2009 07:06 am (UTC)
A happy Thanksgiving to (both of) you and any passing family too!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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In mourning or rejoicing, be not far from me.

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may Amun give me what I have found
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Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are covered wi' snaw,
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Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,
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I envy you, drunk with flowers,
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