I placed the branches in the kitchen, just as I had done last year and the years before she died. The traditions started when they were babies are in some ways more important now than they were then. I dare say, this one may be more important than any other.
While the trees outside were losing their leaves, inside we’d be filling ours. We’d spend November working opposite Mother Nature in a backward upside down kind of way. Our leaves are construction paper cutouts filled with the simple words of which we are thankful. No rules, no expectations, just one thing for which to bow our heads and give thanks. As November unfolded the branches would fill with simple statements:
Da, Mama, God, Friends, Sammy, Freddy……Catherine.
I am overcome by the generosity of which we’ve been recipients- kindness so heartfelt that saying thank you seems shallow and bowing my head not enough. Though we have been lavished in tremendous blessings, I am ashamed to admit, some days I dig deep to find one small nugget for which to be grateful. I search for a simple phrase to hang on a branch. Then as my brave little one chats about what he will write on his leaf, I see her and I am reminded of what I am searching.
Her head is bowed over her leaf deliberating over what she will write because there is more than one thing she could write. She rambles on and on about whether to chose horses or dogs, friends or teachers, or maybe she chose Freddy even though she had already used that one….and so yes….she would chose Freddy because we never said that you couldn’t repeat.
I was told it was God’s design that leaves fall from the trees because if they didn’t, the tree would be destroyed by the weight of the snow snapping its branches. As I watched the trees drop their leaves, I was surprised the dread of what was on the horizon did not settle into my soul. In the tree’s empty limbs I am reminded to stand strong in brave defiance of what is to come. And in this realization I bow my head and give thanks.