Ever since my awkward pre-teen years when I first read Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, I've been a huge fan of of the book series.
Don't worry - this post isn't a 1908 book review. We'll get to the life balance stuff.
Anne (with an "E") reminded me of both who I was and who I wanted to be. Like Anne, I was peculiar, curious, imaginative and chatty. My "Diana Barry" was my best friend Lisa who had similar qualities but in ways which flattered her like a perfectly fitted frock, much unlike the odd shift of characteristics which hung around me, just slightly "off."
Still, we had great fun. I used to imagine that Anne, Diana, Lisa and I would meet in some wrinkle in time (another one of my favorite books) and play together. Kindred spirits.
Something about Thanksgiving breeds this kind of nostalgia. Basking in gratitude inevitably leads to thinking about the kindred sprits of our lives.
He was kindhearted and gentle by nature but never a pushover, and certainly no saint. Once, after unsuccessfully trying to return defective software, my father went back to the store, very calmly put the box on the counter, looked the salesclerk in the eye and told him to shove it up his arse. Then Daddy left the store with a smile, considering it a well-spent $20 for the final satisfaction.
Last Thanksgiving, dad was sitting in my kitchen eating dates with cream cheese and chuckling at my awful jokes. He had snuck out before dawn to the 24-hour store to get some last minute ingredients I had been fretting about, saving me an extra trip on a busy day. He filled my house with an easy presence and a great wit that made everything lighter somehow.
I find myself scanning the recalled details of that visit for any sign that he would not be with us today. It was as unimaginable then as it is now.
Even seven months after his death, there's still a part of me which expects him to come walking out of the guest bedroom any minute now and say, "How ya doin' little kid?"
Ironically, I had somehow blocked out the part of the story in Anne when her dear adopted father Matthew Cuthbert dies suddenly. Until now. I guess that makes Anne and I kindred spirits in more ways than one then.
Still, Thanksgiving is supposed to be a happy occasion.
If I have a life balance strategy to share on this day, it's inspired by Anne as well as my dear ol' dad:
Be a kindred spirit. When you find yourself getting stressed and focusing on all the little crazy details, remember that what's important is connecting with people.
Find ways of making your shared space happier and lighter. Be easier on yourself and everyone around you.
PS: I love you Daddy.