HELP LINE: Find a way to make Thanksgiving special

TODAY IS SUNDAY, Nov. 24, and Thanksgiving is four days away.

If today were Thanksgiving, here’s what I would say: Happy Thanksgiving!

Do you s’pose that, just for today, we could lighten up a little bit?

Could we call a time-out to the perpetual offense that we take, on a daily basis, to all those people who are wrong and rapidly leading us to the brink of global destruction? To all those liars, cheats and power-hungry, self-righteous greedy ne’er-do-wells who are leading the rest of us down the proverbial primrose path to poverty, servitude and sore throats?

I didn’t think so. OK, never mind.

It is an interesting day, though, with all of the commercial images that are thrust on us, from seemingly happy pilgrims in funny clothes gorging themselves to the Waltons (gorging themselves) to the paintings that were on the covers of Post magazines (if you have no idea what that was, never mind. If you have no idea what a magazine is, just Google it and trust me). But the theme is often the same: family and friends gathered about some manner of table, gorging themselves.

Because if there’s anything that will make us grateful quickly, it’s food! The more food, the more gratitude! So, by the end of the day, we’re so grateful we’re comatose! And already worrying about diets, which do not make us grateful.

It’s an interesting day, but I have no intention of going on about obesity today. Gratitude is where we find it.

And, indeed, today there are families, friends, neighbors, spouses, significant others, kids who are already making kids, dogs and whomever else celebrating and enjoying a lovely time with a lot of food.

Good for you! Enjoy!

Any respite from the grief and worry of the real world is welcomed and deserved. And so has it always been.

And I’m not going to go on about all of the tragedy, poverty, horror, hunger and loneliness in the world. Or next door.

You know that as well as I do, but that doesn’t mean that you can never just forget about it for a moment and enjoy yourself and the people you love.

Let’s not worry about the bad guys or the good guys today. Tomorrow, despite our best efforts, will be here soon enough.

So, for just a couple of more minutes, I want to talk to people who are taking care of somebody who needs to be taken care of, whether they like it or not — caregivers, if we need a label — because I know what today is.

So do you.

Today is a day that you get to do even more! Ta-Dah! Oh … goody.

Today is a day when, on top of everything else you were already doing just to get him, her or them (and you) through the day — any day — you get to do even more! You get to do something that will make it feel like Thanksgiving, whatever that may be.

Even if you’re taking care of someone who has no idea where they are, who they are or who you are, it just seems like you should.

Even if you’re not really all that crazy about whomever it is you’re taking care of, and maybe never were, or barely even recognize them or aren’t really doing this whole caregiving thing out of some deep love or commitment, it just seems like you should.

And even if you’ve already figured out that trying to do anything on top of just getting him, her and you through the day in more or less one piece is so past stupid that you’ve been very carefully pretending that today is just another “… day in the neighborhood,” it just seems like you should, and you also know (just as well as I do) that before the day is over, you probably will.

And it doesn’t matter what you try to do, whether it’s cook a special meal, have family over, try to take him or her somewhere else or just nuke a Cornish game hen and watch the “Wizard of Oz” (again) — whatever it is, it’s going to mean that you have to do more.

Like you weren’t doing enough.

Oh … goody.

Maybe we do this out of love — or duty, honor or to pay back — or just by default: There is no one else.

Maybe being able to take care of him or her is the most wonderful gift we’ve ever been given! Maybe it’s not. Maybe it feels like a … sentence.

Maybe it is.

For many of us, though, we do this out of all of those reasons, but we only admit to some of them to certain people at certain times. Truth, sometimes, is a moving target.

But we can’t think too much about it because if we do, we might not be able to do anything!

We’d paralyze ourselves with the prospect of tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow and “… I don’t have time for that because I have to get the meds down him right!”

Or whatever.

And we know that, on some level, he or she knows what we’re doing and appreciates it — understands the magnitude of the gift we’re giving, and loves us for it, but it would sure be nice to … hear it.

Faith, sometimes, is a moving target.

So, go ahead and do whatever you think you need to do to make today special, because you’re going to do it, anyway — even if you had very carefully decided not to, you will.

You’ll do something that you didn’t have time to do, and you may not even realize that you did it for a few more days and when you do, you’ll say to yourself, “Am I nuts?!”

Maybe sanity is a moving target, too. We seem to have a lot of those.

So tonight, when you’re very quietly stealing those few moments with a few leftovers and planning for tomorrow (because you are, and you and I both know it) and thinking that Thanksgiving just isn’t what it’s cracked-up to be, remember what that guy in the paper said.

He said: Thank you.

And when it comes to the thank you part, it doesn’t really matter what day it is.


Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing [email protected].

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