Everyone has that special relative that just makes them feel special or that one person who helps you feel you fit in the family.
My special relative was my Aunt Wilma. She was my mom’s older sister and I was named after her. Her given name was Wilma Lorraine. How did my parents get Rayna then? You ask.
When my mom was young she could not say either name so she called her sister Rainey. My dad did not love Rainey since it reminded him of a rainy day so they modified it. Rayna was created.
My Aunt was a warm and caring person who just made me feel special. She always sent cards in the mail. As a kid, I loved to go to the mailbox to bring in the mail. It was so exciting when there was something in there with my name on it. Most of the time if there was something for me it was from my Aunt Wilma.
She didn’t miss a holiday, even the ones we didn’t celebrate a lot in my family: Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween. When I became an aunt I specifically thought to myself I want to be just like Aunt Wilma.
Even as a kid Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. Our home was the gathering place, a place filled with love, laughter, and good food. I don’t know that there were any specific traditions we followed. We just spent time enjoying each other, playing games, and eating too much.
Aunt Wilma struggled with cancer on and off for about 10 years. My mom spent a lot of time being her caregiver during those difficult times. I was young and never really got how difficult things were for her. I’m sure that was only possible because she was just as giving through these difficult times as she was during the good times.
My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1986. By the time she was diagnosed things had already gone downhill and her personality was changing. Three years later my Aunt Wilma died from cancer By this time mom was not really mom anymore.
It just is not the same
By losing both my Aunt Wilma and my mom no longer able to host likes she used to, Thanksgiving changed. It was not full of family and busyness. The food even changed.
Change is not fun but it will bring growth
I had to focus on those family members who were still there and on the new things which could become our new normal. My Great Aunt Birdie taught me to make her special homemade noodles and I also took over the tradition of making some of our other favorite holiday dishes.
Thanksgiving has never been the same
But the reason for the celebration is always the same. Staying focused on those who are there with us and the many reasons we are Blessed makes the holiday still one of my favorites!