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Carol and I have spent our first (and only we hope) Thanksgiving together without surrounding ourselves with family, either mine or hers. Instead we celebrated alone, in a small cabin located in a quiet, secluded hollow in the shadow of Yosemite National Park
It was our second Thanksgiving alone. We were with family, of course, but our own. As widows, though, Carol and I were alone for the second Thanksgiving in a row, but the first since we became a couple. Maybe that’s why the emotions bubbled just below the surface.
Carol and I continue to ask ourselves about finding each other, “How did this happen?” The mutuality of the question may be differently shaded: mine reflecting a childlike wonder; hers more of a grownup’s wonder over a perplexing child.
For instance, our first Thanksgiving together will be celebrated apart. She will be the matriarch of the Madigan family’s feast here in California, and I will serve as a sous chef for my daughter’s in Chicago. Both families would have perfectly understood had we chosen one over the other for the sake of being together for the holiday, but Carol and I agree this is the right way to celebrate it this first year. At least when it’s over, I will not be returning to an empty house in Seattle, and Carol will not be returning to a room carved out of her daughter and son-in-law’s home. That alone is more than enough to be thankful for, regardless of the miles separating us when we do sit down and give thanks.