Warriors Treasure Traditions...and Make New Ones Too....

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful Warriors and as the holidays approach I would like to issue a challenge to us all... Let's be kids again this year for the holidays! Let's revert to the childlike glee of a time gone by when there was an air of magic about this time of the year instead of a commercialism that has tainted it starting back in September. Let's hold in our hearts the simplest pleasure like a roll of lifesavers at the bottom of a stuffed stocking and make the next month something great.

The second round of holidays seemed a new hurdle after Warrior's passing but the girls really wanted to get back to "normal" this year. That meant for Thanksgiving I needed to cook for a week so that's exactly what I did. I shopped and planned and plotted and chopped and measured and weighed. There were pies and cornbread to make early in the week and stuffing to strategically craft since that is the ultimate dish in our Warrior Family Feast (um yep, it's capitalized because we take this shit seriously!!). I know roughly what every recipe calls for and more or less the measurements but I have my handwritten recipes as heirlooms to refer back to when there's a question. Unfortunately, this year, with so much on the line, I COULD NOT FIND THEM ANYWHERE! On Thanksgiving Eve morning I was not baking and cooking as I would traditionally be doing, I was ripping the house and all our sheds apart for a stack of recipes squirreled away, I'm sure in my own mind, for safe keeping. I was starting to flip until a calm settled over me and I realized, I've not cooked a real meal like this since I lost him and without him the traditions would be all new anyway. I stopped the frenetic search and did everything from memory knowing there would be new flavors anyway this year...some of them bittersweet.

As I began to cook the girls woke. They saw the table set and ran to hug me so excited for this return to a new normalcy. I placed a favorite picture of Warrior on the table, something beautiful he had written us and his little action figure I bring whenever we have the chance to meet all you. He was represented even if not physically present. What I dreaded most was his empty chair at the head of the table. I mentioned this to Steve and he changed that sadness entirely. He told me, "It won't be empty because that is where you are going to sit this year. That is what Warrior would want."...And you know, in that moment, I knew what Steve said was absolutely true.

I cooked all day Wednesday and Thursday with joy in my heart because of the girls reactions. Every pie smelled more delicious than the next according to them and when the stuffing was in the slow cooker, the turkey and roast in the oven, the house smelled for the first time like home again. When the magic hour came for us to fill our plates and sit down I did indeed sit in my husband's chair with Mattie on my right, Indy on my left and Warrior smiling from a frame in front of me. We raised our glasses to him and each other and spoke of the gratitude in our hearts for the healing we've done and the happiness we have never stopped chasing.

I sat there from a brand new seat and watched time turn back on my girls' faces. They ate as though I were a master chef and they complimented everything I made from memory as though it were the best they ever tasted. It wasn't the food though that they were really giving such favor, it was the return to the simple tradition of gathering round the table at this time of year with those you love in the soft bath of candle light and being truly present in the simplest chair of grace.

Thanksgiving kicked off for me not a rush into the holidays where department stores open and frenzied shoppers storm doors. It made me soft in the belly for simple, thoughtful ways to reach out and mesh old traditions with new ones. I made a pledge to myself to be a kid with my girls, listen to music, play in the snow, bake cookies, celebrate our birthdays and then Christmas and New Years too. We are responsible for setting the tone for this season ourselves and not allowing it to be highjacked by corporations selling us "more".... The "more" is in the memories you make with everybody you love...The gift is not in the "more" it is in the YOU!!!

I believe my greatest new tradition is the relationship I've forged with you Warriors and the POWER each one of you has given me to make it through. I believe every single one of you is a treasured gift and the more time you offer your loved ones the more their lives will be improved and genuinely enriched...I believe in traditions and how they carry us forward and into new ones that will sustain us....ALWAYS!

xo Dana

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