When I was a little girl, my sister and I watched with rapt attention as Dad carved the Thanksgiving turkey and carefully removed the wishbone. When dinner was over, the tug of war began. We closed our eyes, held on tightly to one side of the wishbone, made a wish, and hoped to be the lucky winner who landed the longer half, once the wishbone had broken in two.
I won more often than not. Somewhere along the line, I figured out my chances of getting the ‘long half’ increased considerably if I inched my hand higher up the neck of the wishbone. If my trick worked, I’d feel a little guilty, because I knew I wasn’t playing fair. Sometimes I made sure my sister won, and when I saw how excited she was, I felt happy. Sometimes the entire wishbone affair was left to chance.
Occasionally the wishbone broke evenly, even-steven, we used to say and giggle because my sister’s closest friend’s name was ‘Eve’ and her brother’s name was ‘Steven.’ But more importantly, when the wishbone broke evenly, we both got our wish. To my recollection, we kept our wishes a secret because we believed they would only come true if not revealed to anyone.
Most of the wishes I made have faded from memory. I imagine some were frivolous. I was a little girl, after all. But I do remember one Thanksgiving and one special wish. I was 12-years-old and my sister was 9. She’d had surgery in May, to remove a brain tumor. Chemo and radiation followed. Later that summer, my father had a severe, debilitating stroke. He was only 46.
I won the wishbone contest that year. I wished as hard as I could: that my sister and father would live.
My father lived longer than anyone ever expected. He celebrated 41 more Thanksgivings, the last here in Seattle. My sister also celebrated 41 more Thanksgivings, though when she died, she was only 50.
I wish they were both still here, along with my friend Dee, my friend Marshall, and Big Papa’s mom and dad. Like many of us, I feel these losses most during the holiday season. While I know all the wishbones in the world won’t bring them back, how lucky am I that, for a time, I had them in my life. For this, I am deeply thankful.
On this day of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for:
Growing up with a family.
Being blessed with many friends.
Having a beautiful home to live in, and a garden to watch grow.
Food on my table.
My wonderful husband, our spirited daughter,
and one sweet old cat still purring beside us.
Take the road less traveled, Beth