Sunday, November 26, 2017

2017.11.26 Thanksgiving—A Love Sabbatical

On Thanksgiving day this year we celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary. That’s not such a big deal, but it’s not bad mileage for a second marriage, or for two Leos living under one roof roaring.

Today is Christ in Majesty (aka Christ the King, but that's too limiting) Sunday. We were married on this Sunday in our parish church during the Eucharistic liturgy, November 23, 1986.

We celebrate our anniversary and Thanksgiving every year in southern Maine. But isn’t that family time? Yes, and the gift we chose to give ourselves was some time just for us—time away from professional duties, home, and yes, from our very large extended blended exuberant family. 

Yes, we miss them, and yes we love them all. And yes, we always call them all. And yes we (I) have felt guilty. They in turn are relieved of having to manage the holiday to include one more family— besides their own, their in-laws’ and that of former spouses, not to mention any aunts, uncles or cousins— in the Thanksgiving rituals.

To ease my guilt about breaking tradition, being selfish or abandoning, or thusly accused, I told myself for years that it was good for our progeny that they didn’t have to worry about us—including us, or not, or where. Thanksgiving after all is only one day, not an easily moveable feast. That was my assumption, not necessarily their desire or convenience.

But this year I tell the truth without excuses. This love sabbatical from the beginning has been our choice, a mutual choice made, only in part to escape family chaos, but mostly for our own benefit. Oh, yes, we are retired now. And yes, we aren’t living geographically on top of most of our offspring. And yes, we are able to see some old friends living in Maine. And no, this isn’t where we honeymooned. And no, this sojourn is not a glamorous vacation or getaway. Our choice has little to do with these factors.

So why do we do this?

We do it because we like coastal Maine and wintry sea, and the little humble unglamorous Seaside Inn bed-and-breakfast with large rooms and teeny bathrooms, we have stayed at for years. We do it for quiet, to catch up on reading, to avoid the temptation of over-checking emails, texts, phone calls. We do it for memories. Mostly—truly, deeply, really— we do it for love. We do it so we can enjoy each other’s company—just the two of us. We do it so we can stay in love. I am grateful we have enough health and resources to nourish our love and marriage this way.

As always the poet best captures the value, both ultimate and temporal, of love.

THAT I DID ALWAYS LOVE

That I did always love
I bring thee Proof
That till I loved
I never lived - Enough -
That I shall love alway -
I argue thee
That love is life -
And life hath Immortality -
This - dost thou doubt - Sweet -
Then have I
Nothing to show
But Calvary -
        Emily Dickinson