To be honest, Thanksgiving (and the days around it) and I do not have the best history.
It started when I was quite young (maybe 4 or 5). On Thanksgiving, I was playing in the basement around my dad's workbench area and picked up this old sharp knife with a bright red handle. Well it slipped and went into my wrist. The company was coming soon and everyone was rushing around. At first I thought I'd get in trouble and then decided to tell my parents. I probably should have gotten stitches (it was pretty deep) but my dad, being in the medical field, thought he might stitch it up himself. But I think my mom vetoed that and instead, we did butterfly bandages and I, obviously, lived.
A few years later, my beloved grandfather, one of my favorite people, died in front of my family. It had been anticipated for awhile (he had been battling asbestos-induced lung cancer for the past year). He was peacefully sleeping and then just stopped breathing while the whole family was there for Thanksgiving. It was nice everyone was there but hard at the same time. Something I will never forget, of course. Ironically, that years later, I also got cancer (not the same kind or anything) but he was the only person I knew up until that point that had had cancer. I thought of him often when I was going through my own stuff and how brave and strong he was-he truly never thought he would die from the cancer and I guess that is the attitude I adapted too. He'd go play golf when he could and demanded that he not be in the hospital.
Another year, when I was probably about 11 or 12, was a little less significant but still affecting me enough to remember, was when I innocently opened a door. This turned into my younger cousin, who was running around corner at full blast, gashing his head open on the door and needing to go to the ER in an ice storm. Thankfully he was ok.
Now, for the one that happened the most recently and is up there with my grandpa passing away. On the day after Thanksgiving of 2002, as many of you know, I found out I had relapsed a second time (a new tumor between my heart, lung and spine). Based on all the other cases of Askin's Tumor relapses after a stem cell transplant and the shape my body was in (which was very weak and beat up from the first 2 times with cancer, to say the least), it was thought that I had weeks to live.
Fast forward to now and obviously, once again, I am still alive and SO thankful. It's given me a new thankfulness for Thanksgiving and it's finally starting to grow on me with bittersweet emotions. Starting in 2003, knock on wood, my Thanksgivings have been great and uneventful. I still feel a bit hesitant (my body's been hurting more than usual lately, etc) around this holiday but I try to embrace it as much as I can!
I didn't mean for this to get so introspective and long but these are some of the thoughts and emotions that come along with this time of year for me, which I'll probably extrapolate on more in the future.
Today, I am truly thankful for: living this long, family, friends, faith, prayers and God!