Monday, November 4, 2013

Don't Wait for Thanksgiving to be Thankful

On both Facebook and Google+, several of my friends are partaking in November's Daily Thanksgiving challenge (actually, I don't know what it's officially called... I only know that each day people are writing something they are thankful for). Personally, I think this is a wonderful thing... except, why are we only doing it during November?

Many years ago, I learned to always give thanks for the things in your life - especially the people. Don't wait for Thanksgiving day. Don't wait for Thanksgiving month. Take time as often as you can to say thank you to God... and to say thank you to those people. Ironically, it was Thanksgiving morning when this lesson was really driven home for me....

My husband had left early that morning with our three older children (then 3, 5 and 7) to spend Thanksgiving day with his family. I would have gone along, but we'd decided it would have been too much for our 4 month old twins, so I stayed behind with them.

At about 9am, I got a phone call from my sister. Our brother Brandon was found just an hour or two earlier - he'd hung himself with a cable in his closet. My dad, whom I hadn't spoken with in years, called to also tell me the news. He was the one who found Brandon, having gone to wake him up to help make Thanksgiving dinner. My sister called again and filled in a few more details. My other sister called me. My twins were fussing, not understanding why their mother was hugging the stuffing out of them. My neighbor came up to take care of me as I was finding myself to be quite useless in caring for these two helpless infants.

Nine years later - in September - I got an email from my sister while at work. This time, it was to inform me that another brother of ours - Matthew - had just been found a couple hours earlier, hanging from a cable in his closet. I vaguely recall whispering the name of a coworker who had a desk next to me as I just sat shell shocked, staring at my computer.

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The image above is a bit deceptive. These two brothers weren't little boys when they died. Brandon was almost 21; Matthew was 24. Below are their high school graduation pictures (I'm guessing they were both 17 in these pics.... close to 18).

When I left home, and was not allowed to stay in contact with these boys, Brandon was only 12, and Matthew was 7. I never got to know them as young adults. But, they were my best friends when I was growing up, even though there was a bit of an age difference (I was 6 years older than Brandon... 11 years older than Matthew). And I never had the chance to tell them how much I loved them and thought about them and just how incredibly grateful I was that I had a chance to grow up with them. I never had a chance to apologize for leaving them. I never had a chance to thank them for enriching my life and for how much they taught me, despite their young age. I learned more from these two boys than I have from anyone else. And the strongest lesson I learned from them...

Do NOT wait for Thanksgiving. There are going to be people who come into your life and change you for the better - some may stick around for quite awhile... some for only a brief time. But regardless of how long they're in your life, they'll live in your heart forever. Tell them thank you. Tell them tonight... tell them next week... tell them every chance you get. You may not get another chance.

Yes, Thanksgiving is a great day to remember friends and family, and all the blessings God has given us. But don't wait for that day to get on your knees and praise the Lord for everything He's given you - especially those people who've made your life that much brighter, that much better, that much more complete.

With that said...

Thank you to my friends, my readers, those who comment and help me grow as a writer and as a Christian, those who've been here during my meltdowns, and encouraged me, prayed for me, and listened to me.

God bless,
Brandi


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