Giving Thanks After a Split

In the last nine years, I’ve shared only one Thanksgiving meal with both of my parents, who divorced during my senior year of high school. It was in 2010, and the impetus for the reunion was completely unplanned and less than joyous: My maternal grandfather died unexpectedly early that holiday morning, just as all of my extended family members were preparing to gather at my aunt’s home. Hours later, after business was taken care of at the hospital, we all met for dinner as planned. The mood was, of course, somber, but also comforting, as we reflected on our memories of Granddad and tried to be grateful for all we had.

To the complete surprise of my younger sister and me, my mom asked my dad to join us that day. My parents’ separation was less than amicable, and prior to that day they had barely been able to speak to each other on the phone, much less spend an hour or two in each other’s presence. (My college graduation had consisted of two separate family celebrations.) But prior to the divorce, my dad had been very close to my mom’s parents, and while he hadn’t spoken to either of them in years, in an odd way it made sense for him to be there that day. When he arrived at my aunt’s, it was almost as if no time had passed—hugs went around, tears were shed, and my mom and dad comforted each other in a way that I hadn’t seen since I was a kid.

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