Those were the words my daughter dictated to her pre-school teacher 20 years ago. In bold marker, the teacher dutifully wrote them onto the strip of sticker decorated bristol board that would become my daughter’s crown for the afternoon’s sharing circle. She did this for all of daughter’s classmates.

It touched the hearts of her daddy and me. Not only did we get top billing but we were without a doubt in esteemed company. By now I suspect many of you are smiling, perhaps remembering your own child’s sweetness or maybe even the uncomplicated innocence we all shared when we were three.

The last years have been hard. There has been a lot of loss. And like any holiday when family gathers, Thanksgiving is a reminder of who no longer sits at the table.

For years, my late husband, daughter and myself would play a game at the dinner table. We would list three things we were thankful for that day. I never tired of hearing one of the things my husband was thankful for was coming home. Kind of hokey, but, when spending time with your family ranks in the things you’re most thankful for it’s always a good thing. On rough days, it meant that being home was a reprieve: on great days, it was a place to share one’s triumphs with those who meant the most to you. It also meant that, regardless of the day, you had a place where you were welcome and loved.

Last year, much to my niece’s surprise, I asked those gathered around our newly configured family table to list three things they were thankful for. It seemed like the place and time to carry-on with this lovely game. This year, I’ve given her ample warning and I’m looking forward to hearing her thoughts.

As for me, I will be thankful for the people sitting at the table, for those who are absent due to other commitments, and for those who are absent because they are no longer with us. I will be thankful for the love and connection I share with those present, for all the love and support that has been given to me throughout the years and the love that I too have been able to give. And I will be thankful that I am here and able to continue moving forward with love. After all, isn’t that what my daughter captured all those years ago? Deep connections, people (and bears) in her corner, and the comfort that having these things bring to us all (soft blankies included).

Happy Thanksgiving,