We’re all battling something.
Now, that’s a dark way to open a column one day before Thanksgiving. My favorite of all the holidays, I might add, for a number of reasons. The number one reason would circle around my childhood and the memory of our family coming together in a loud gathering, filled with deviled eggs, black olives, the traditional dinner and pie, yes … lots and lots of pie. The pie was always topped with cool whip often times drowning said pie, but the noise; the noise is my favorite part of the memory.
The beauty of Thanksgiving was the joy which could be heard from every room of the home which hosted the event each year. Be it the TV room and watchers yelling at a football game, the kitchen with voices raised over clanging dishes or the dinner table where we tended to linger (children and adults) long after the meal was over, the noise was like music.
So why start with such a dark sentence?
My heart has been conflicted this past week. As the joy of the holidays awaits so many of us, my mind travels north to Butte County and all who are just living hour by hour. The newly named “homeless” if you will, the displaced families, the business owners out of business and yes, those who lost more than stuff, but a family member. It’s hard to feel joy, when your heart feels conflicted.
For as long as I can recall, I’ve struggled with this. The heart hurt and deep sadness, which makes joy feel unfair. Perhaps that’s why in this case, as I struggle secretly (well, until now), I hear the wisdom of my mother. Always encouraged to think of what I can do and most importantly reminded that these are the moments to reflect and be grateful for every moment. Tragedy was always used as opportunity for a teaching moment when I was a kid. It was a chance to see how lucky I was to have any and everything that I did, regardless of how it measured up to others.
“Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” – Unknown.
This was the quote which popped into my head last week, as I struggled with the vastness of holidays for the most of us, versus holidays for those in Butte County.
Devastation should not be the basis to bring us to kindness; kindness should drive us every day regardless.
I still recall when this quote first found me six years ago. It was one year post-divorce, facing struggles few knew anything about. My smile still shown brightly, as I knew how fortunate I was for so many things: healthy, loving children, a supportive family, loving friends and a job which was “family” friendly. In short, amidst the storm and the “battle” I still felt blessed.
So what’s the point? What does the Camp Fire, Thanksgiving and this quote have to do with each other? It’s simple really.
There is little we can do by way of changing the tragedy of the fire victims. Yes, we can touch their hearts and transpire love through donations, volunteer efforts and extending prayers, good vibes or wishes. The tragedy will still remain; they will still face the “battle.” Kindness numbs the sting.
So as we go into this time of Thanksgiving and the Holiday season we should be reminded that we are surrounded by people battling something we know nothing about, our families included.
Perhaps it is the first holiday without a loved one, a job loss which has yet to be made public, a bank account which came up short or even a child who is struggling and can’t find words – be kind. As humans, as much as we love to give, as much as we try to fix the problem through donations during tragic times, it is through kindness daily that we have the biggest impact.
Oh, sure we don’t always get this right. As a creative type, I live true to that stereotype and fly off the handle my fair share of times and then … I reset. I acknowledge my shortcomings and remember … we are all battling something.
And truthfully, who are we kidding, as much as I loved the Thanksgiving gathering with family, there was always “something”, some “issue” which resided between a family member or another. Yet in the spirit of family and the holiday that too was put aside – kindness, love, laughter; that’s where the memories lie.
As we each navigate forward let us remember that. Come from a place of grace, gratitude and be in each and every moment. Happy Thanksgiving.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.