Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 21, 2002
Love the ones you're with
By SUZANNE ELSTON
It's Thanksgiving weekend, and with it comes an opportunity to express our gratitude for the good gifts that we have all been given. Food on the table and loved ones to share it with, a roof over our head and clothes on our backs to keep us safe and warm - it is these most basic necessities of life that we should be celebrating.
I would like to confess that my life is so full of stuff - albeit mostly good stuff - that it's difficult to imagine slowing down enough to enjoy these bare necessities. Like so many other 40-somethings, my life is a hurried rush of commitments to my husband Brian and our three kids, my job, various volunteer functions and simply getting the grocery shopping done.
Add to that aging parents whose needs and demands seem to grow daily, doctors and dentists appointments and a dog that needs to be walked and there isn't a square inch of space left in my day or my head.
Twenty years ago, I was a single woman with a good job, living alone in a funky apartment in Toronto's trendy Beaches area. When I awoke on the Saturday morning of a long weekend, I would lie in bed just long enough to consider what I would actually like to do. Would I like to go for a jog? Wash my car? Phone a friend and go out for breakfast, or shopping, or both?
Today, Brian and I sometime reflect on what it would feel like to have our heads clear enough to ask these questions, let alone possess the luxury of time to consider even one of them.
Don't get me wrong. That life that I seem to lament was as empty as the long hardwood corridors of my apartment - beautiful, spacious and absolutely lonely. I want what I have. I am blessed with a home, a loving husband and three wonderful children. I have work that matters and friends who care about me and value my friendship. What's missing is enough space to love and enjoy them back.
The problem is that we live in a world where we are accessible to everything all of the time. My family has five phone lines (two land lines, one for Internet connection and two cell phones). We all have at least one email account and enough computers for everyone in the family. We are wired - reachable 24 hours a day - on stage, informed and ready for input.
A couple of weekends ago, our son Matthew borrowed my cell phone and promptly lost it. I delayed replacing it for almost a week - hoping that it would eventually show up - until our other son Peter complained that he had needed to get hold of me twice that week and couldn't because I didn't have my cell phone. Like any dutiful mother, I felt guilty until I realized that Peter had managed his crisis without me. Nobody got hurt or died.
Kahlil Gibran wrote, "Let there be spaces in your togetherness." In having so much all of the time, we have lost the gift of wanting.
The desire to reach someone when you can't makes it so much more precious when you do connect. Missing our loved ones, wanting something unattainable - it is these longings that drive us on.
This Thanksgiving weekend, I'm going to turn off my computer and cell phone, and only answer the telephone when I feel like it. I'm going to lie in bed in the morning and wonder out loud what I'd like to do with my weekend. I'm going to stop nagging our kids about lounging around in their pajamas all day. Instead, I might even join them on the couch with my fuzzy slippers and housecoat.
I may (or may not) cook a turkey, but I will take an afternoon to simply bake with our daughter Sarah while she still wants to spend her time with her Mom. And I will give thanks - for my life, for my loved ones, and for wanting what I already have.
Recommended websites:None. I invite you to turn off your computer, too. Enjoy. Be thankful. And to paraphrase Stephen Stills, "Love the ones you're with."
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