Empty Nest, Thanksgiving & Storytelling

I am preparing for my empty nest by obsessing about my empty nest. My son is applying to college and God willing he will be off to the next adventure of his life next fall. I am insanely proud of him and at the same time not quite sure how I am going to manage. I will of course, but I miss him when I think about missing him. He is a wonderful human being and while excited to share him with the world, it will be a transition for both of us.

We are very close and I know he is thrilled to be going to college and chasing his dreams, but he is also nervous to be going to away. His college choices are all far from home and though he is the type of kid who will thrive out on his own, he is still my baby and will be a little scared. I struggle a bit when he is not with me for a weekend, but there is comfort in knowing he will be back. All I can say about college is thank God we now have Facetime!

My boy was with his Dad for Thanksgiving and it was hard for me. Holidays are usually hard, but this year, knowing he may not be home for Thanksgiving for a while, was difficult. I was planning on staying home and having a pity party, but in the end decided to embrace the holiday and do something of value. Not only for me, but for others. I can’t sit home for four years waiting for him to call, so I need to start living life in a new way.

I went to the market and bought turkey, bread, cheese, and cranberry sauce. I then spent a couple of hours making 72 turkey sandwiches with a side of cranberries. I got in my car and drove around the valley handing out sandwiches to people who were out hoping to make a little money. Sometimes I simply passed them through my window at a corner, and sometimes I got out of my car to say hello and talk to people. It was remarkable.

Everyone has a story, and while some were unwilling to talk, or even accept the sandwich, others not only wanted the food, but wanted to talk. I met lovely people, some were intimidating, but mostly lovely people who were excited about the holiday and had real gratitude. A mother who lost her job, a drug addict who spoke of how he celebrated Christmas as a child, a young man who asked if he could give his sandwich to his dog Jack.

I sat with that man for a few minutes and it turns out he was a vet who lost his way after serving in Iraq. I imagine the world would be a much better place if we took the time to listen to people’s stories instead of assuming we know about them based on seeing them on the street asking for money. It was a great day spent with some great people and I felt thankful to have done something of value instead of sitting home being pitiful.

I got home and then went for Thanksgiving dinner with some new friends. It was a great night. The food was fabulous, stories were fascinating, and I was able to feel gratitude for having raised a wonderful son with the knowledge that when he is not with me, I am able to have fun and embrace my life. I am a lucky woman and blessed mother. I will never have an empty nest because my son will always come home. I am thankful and keeping the faith.