Truthfully, I could sit here all day and type the gazillions of reason’s why my heart is filled with thanksgiving…but for brevity’s sake (and your sanity!) I won’t!!!
What I will share with you is a personal story.
My parents separated before--and divorced soon after--I was born. The reasons were many, varied, and too personal to get into. I tell you this so you will know I was raised by a single mother in a time when a divorced woman with a child was still looked upon as anathema by our society.
She never graduated from high school, had no marketable job skills, didn’t drive, and child support/alimony was a joke because my father rarely paid it.
Now, you might think this story goes on to say that we became recipients of welfare, or what was called back then relief, that we struggled, lived in a tenement, starved, etc.
And you’d be wrong.
My mother, my uneducated, unskilled mother, NEVER took a dime from anyone. Not the government (and she really would have qualified for assistance); she never asked for help from her family (who practically disowned her because she was * gasp * a divorced Catholic ), or anyone else. She always said she was young, strong, and willing to work, and there was someone else who needed the help--and the hand out--more than we did.
So, yes, we ate mayonnaise sandwiches sometimes for dinner because that’s all she could afford to buy that week. And yes, we never took trips, went shopping, or even out for lunch or dinner. A big day out for us was to ride the Staten Island ferry to Manhattan and back again, or to go to the local library and see one of the free movies they were showing on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
We may not have had much, but we always had a roof over our heads, she made sure of that. It may not have been in the greatest neighborhood, and the rent may have been more than she could really afford, but we were safe, had clothes on our backs, and food in our stomachs. All on a minimum wage job that practically broke her physically, but that she always thanked God for that she had.
And when she lost one job, she always went out and found another immediately. She never let the stress show; never became doleful, woeful, or morose about her lot in life. She persevered. She pushed through. She never gave up.
So what am I thankful for today?
I’m thankful I had a mother who taught me the meaning of hard work. I’m thankful I had a mother who taught me that inconsequential personal possessions weren’t necessary to be happy. I’m thankful I had a mother who sacrificed her own personal aspirations, desires and dreams in order for me to have a chance at fulfilling my own. And I’m thankful I had a mother who realized – and taught me – that education was the way out of poverty and lack.
They say no sacrifice is too great for a parent with regards to their child. My mother proved that saying is true. She taught me- firsthand- family comes first, last and always.
And for that, I am thankful in more ways than I can state.
Because family means everything to me – I learned that at my mother’s side – I write about families. Because I learned how to be a strong woman from one, I write about strong women. Because my mother finally found a man who cherished her enough to take her and her child on, love them, and support them, I write about men with that kind of character.
And because of my love of families, I’m giving one reader an e-copy (KINDLE) of my holiday release, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS- a story about a large, loud, and loving Italian/American family – if you can tell me what your favorite Thanksgiving family tradition is. I’ll pick one winner from the comments/responses I receive.
With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind.
Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not.
Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?
After an hour of helping people move supplies from cars, I passed by mama who was carrying a humongous plastic swaddled baby Jesus statue for the crèche when she called out, “The new guy is here.”
“Where?” I put down the ladder I’d been carting and looked in the general direction of where she’d pointed her chin since her arms were full of the Lord.
I found him in an instant. It wasn’t difficult because he was the only guy in the parking lot I didn’t recognize. Plus, he was dressed head to toe in basic clergy black. Black long sleeved shirt under a black vest over black trousers and standard issue shiny black boring priest shoes.
His back was to me and he was carrying a table, but after he put it down and turned around I got a good look at the front of him.
And Holy Mary, Mother of God, what a front he had.
Close cropped military style hair the color of wind blown wheat topped a head which stood – truly – head and shoulders above everyone else around. The guy had to be six-three at least. Sharp, etched cheekbones God cut with a knife, sat under deep and dark oval shaped eyes. His face was a composite of planes and angles, the carved cheeks meeting up with a chiseled-from-stone chin. Hardened concrete looked softer than this guy’s jawline. His nose was perfectly fixed in the center of his face, the slight aquiline bend at the tip bringing to mind Michelangelo’s David, the cupid’s bow under it well-defined and pronounced. Clean shaven, his mouth was full and thick and - God help me – looked utterly kissable.
I could tell even with the chunky vest covering his torso, he was closer to thin than stocky, but from the way his biceps pulled against his sleeves, he had some muscle to him.
And some pair of legs. They went on forever, from heaven to earth in a full, hard line.
I don’t know how long I stood there just gawking with my mouth open like an empty cannoli shell waiting to be filled, but I’m being truthful when I say I couldn’t move. My feet were frozen to the ground, my knees had locked, and my hips weren’t taking me anywhere soon.
This was one beautiful man.
The old masters would have used him as a springboard for their work, and I could actually picture him in a Botticelli fresco, garbed in Roman robes, lounging while naked, buxom-breasted chubby women fed him grapes and sweetmeats.
In the time it took for a hummingbird to flap its wings once, I pictured myself as one of those women.
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Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance author who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can't live without them.
Peggy holds a master's degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer's Disease during her time running an Alzheimer's in-patient care unit during the 1990s.
A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.