Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I'm Thankful For

Today I'm getting ready to host my first Thanksgiving, in my very own little 750-square-foot Manhattan apartment. Manhattan is home, of course, to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which we'll attend. My neighborhood is home to the Bowery Mission, which will feed an untold number, and I'd love to drop in and lend a hand for a bit so Jamie can see where his donated mashed potatoes really went. Thankfully, my mom is bringing the turkey and dressing for our own table, along with her homemade cranberry sauce and a pecan pie. I have a 28-inch stove, and while it's an industrial-style Blue Star gas range that we bought and installed ourselves, it's still on the cramped side for cooking up, well, an entire Thanksgiving dinner. Plus, I fall into more of the baker category when it comes to things I'm naturally drawn to cooking (hello, carbs), and so am making homemade yeast rolls with a pumpkin pie, the homemade dough for the crust of which is chilling in the refrigerator now. My pie filling, made last night with my own freshly ground pumpkin pie spice, is hanging around my packed fridge in a mason jar (tip: this takes up about 4 inches of space rather than a huge tupperwares' worth!), and waits to be poured into the pastry shell, once that's underway.

Oh, Thanksgiving. Sometimes anxiety gets the better grip of me, and I'm dealing with that in my life; who isn't? Show me one person. I don't write about it normally, but it's ever present, particularly around the holidays, and my triggers are numerous. I'm thankful that I know I'm not a SuperWoman, even if I want to be, and know when to ask for help when I need it. When I'm feeling strong, I can see my triggers as sculpture, and walk around them with aplomb. When I'm tired and vulnerable, nothing much seems to do the trick, and I walk around with a lump in my chest. This, for now, given that I'm falling into the Vulnerable camp these days, is best treated with a positive attitude and some old-fashioned therapy. And so I've been thinking about what I'm grateful for this year.

I'm deeply thankful for my family.

I'm thankful for Jamie's progress. He's just gotten his first official report card, and his overall average was an 88 with a huge smattering of As for general excellence. His teacher, Sister Rita Maria, who I'm growing to love, wrote one sentence in the comments section: "It has been a joy to have Jamie in my class this year, and I'm thankful for the opportunity." Wow. We've come a long way, baby. So much of this success can be attributed to his own strength, hard work, and determination, but without the fleet of experts who've helped him along the way, and who continue to do so, we would not have been able to navigate his special needs with the same patience and understanding. I keep thinking of the director of the Child Development Center, Margo Bayroff, who took Jamie into her therapeutic nursery with open arms, and who loved him for who he was, seeing his full potential at 3 after he was thrown out of nursery school. I also keep thinking of Billy English, the director of Admissions at the Cooke Center, who took him in when he was turning 5. I'll never forget Billy looking at me at a meeting and asking me, "What can Jamie bring to us?" What followed was the to-be-expected-from-any-mother litany about his compassion, his sensitivity, and his empathy, and the knowledge that he just needed a chance-- some extra helpers to help him navigate his social challenges. So in 2 1/2 years, after being given that chance, Jamie comes home with a B+ report card from his mainstream classroom. My sweet kid has a heart that opens up and gives and gives unconditionally, and I want to continue to learn from him, as I do every day.

I'm thankful thankful thankful for this life, with all of its bumps and turns.

I'm thankful for, and missing dearly, those lives which have ended, but which have left a lasting impact on mine. The recently lost to cancer, my dear sister in law, Patty, and father in law, Jim, continue to live on inside of me, in Jim, and in Jamie. I'll raise a toast to them and call on their loving, calm spirits. To the further departed, I raise a toast in my heart to my Granddad, who I miss every holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers~how thankful I am that you let me bend your ears from time to time.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Rachel, and as always I love reading your blog. i hope your family dinner goes off beautifully! I have to admit I'm not that sad about missing it just this once, though I will miss Alice. Also struggling to be just grateful and push back the daily anxieties that come with being a parent in the city. Just last night, we had to evacuate the street near Alice's school because of a gas leak. Relaxing! Will miss you this weekend.

  2. I am thankful for the people who have come into my life and let me into theirs this year.

    I am thankful for my mental health.

    I am thankful for the (relative!) resiliency of my industry.

    I am thankful for the existence of New York City, and thankful to be able to see beyond it as well.

    I am thankful that I really feel sometimes like we're all in this together.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Rachel! I am also thankful for you.

  3. Rachel - such great news about Jamie! Truly something to be thankful for. As for me, I am thankful for my awesome two kids and especially for the great progress David is making and most of all for Valerie for putting up with me and my crazieness while maintaining a full time high powered job, providing tons of structure for the kids and as a "hobby" runs the Parents Association for David's school - all while I am 50 miles away at work.

    Happy thanksgiving from the Kalderons