Giving Thanks

In May of last year, I accepted a new job that – on paper – promised to be the perfect addition to my resume. It was a position that offered the opportunity to tie together all of the skills, abilities, and passions I had developed along my twenty-five-year business career. Almost immediately upon starting, however, it quickly became clear that the role and the work environment wouldn’t live up to my expectations and hopes. Things escalated to a point where my disappointment and mounting frustrations negatively impacted those closest to me. I quickly realized that I had to cut my losses. A mere four months after I began, I quit.

The entire experience had been unnerving and left me feeling confused. I questioned my judgment, my choices, my options, my strengths, and my weaknesses. I knew I needed to take a break, get away, and regroup. I desperately needed a change of attitude, perspective, and scenery.

My husband and I decided to skip Thanksgiving at home and head to Europe for the week. Since Thanksgiving has always been “my” holiday, “running away” was totally out of character. But, since our daughter was studying in Prague for the semester, the timing became the perfect excuse to visit her and the beautiful city of which we had heard so much. From there, it also became easy to travel to Paris for a few days; a city we had wanted to visit from the time of our meeting in ninth grade French class. The trip ended up being the ideal remedy to a case of the blahs. And, two weeks after our return, I was offered a job that I still hold and am privileged to have today.

* * *

To make up for being away last year, I planned to take this entire week off to prepare for Thanksgiving. Both of my kids, my parents, and my grandparents would be joining us in Atlanta for the holiday. I was excited about preparing my all-time favorite foods (I actually enjoy cooking them and make EVERYTHING from scratch!) and wanted to have everything made, set, and ready by the time that everyone arrived.

Unfortunately, this ended up being a crazy week and my vacation days (Monday and Tuesday) didn’t go according to plan. The escalating tensions of the past couple of weeks in Israel caused my organization (the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta), and my department (Israel and Overseas), to partner with the Consul General of Israel to stage a community-wide rally in support of Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas’ rocket-fire and terrorism. Working non-stop over a three-day period, we enabled almost two thousand people from around the metropolitan area to join together in a show of solidarity.

While the rally was deemed a success, and I was thrilled to have played a part in it, I hadn’t done a thing to prepare for Thanksgiving. And, even though I was totally exhausted by Wednesday morning, I had to blitz the day while keeping my eye on the clock. I wanted all of the shopping done and all of the side dishes prepared before my mother arrived. I didn’t want her helping with anything but the turkey. So, I had to hurry. The house would be full of people by seven o’clock in the evening.

And now, it’s already Friday morning. I’m sitting at the kitchen table, typing away, sipping on a Harvey’s Bristol Cream. Everyone is sleeping soundly and peacefully…my grandparents are in the master bedroom, my parents are in the guest room, the kids are in their rooms, and my husband (waiting for me) on the pullout-sofa-bed in the office. I feel so lucky and blessed that they are all here – with me – under one roof. I just wish my brother and sisters, and their families, could be here too.

I look around at the kitchen, and towards the dining room, amazed that yummy smells and lively conversations were in the air just a few hours ago. Somehow, I pulled it off. The food was great, the company was fun, and being with my family is wonderful. (I hope the rest of the weekend goes as well.) But, it’ll be good to get back to “normal” and to go to work on Monday. Boy, what a difference a year makes!

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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