A few weeks ago I took my wife and kids to a nearby forest to take some family photos. We each held a photo of us and little Mitch as a memorial to a fallen family member we each love and miss very much. Yet despite our sorrows, we remain grateful to still have each other. 

This year my heart will still be heavy because I’ll miss how Mitch used to sit by me at family dinners and softly hold my hand at the table. I’ll miss how he used to snuggle up with me on the couch as we watched movies. I’ll miss giving him piggyback rides up the stairs because his muscles were too weak. I’ll miss his laugh and brilliant wit. I’ll miss his … everything. As much as grief weighs heavy on my heart, threatening to sink me, I have 4 other people whom I love with all of my heart and their presence in my life lifts me. 

I love my wife. She is as kind as she is beautiful. She would sooner fall on the sword for those she loves than harm them in any way. Self-sacrificing, wise and loving, I find myself always taking notes and learning from her natural ways; ways, that any without thought on her part, that are far beyond me. Each day my sweet wife and friend, without saying a word, teaches me how to be. 

I love Laura-Ashley. She is beautiful, smart and kind. I enjoy watching her explore new territory as she pursues the arts and sciences. She is learning to play the guitar, draw and write. Her trouble in life will be deciding what to do – because she can do anything. I hope she comes to feel (not just know) how proud I am of the young woman she is. Ethan, my oldest son, is a remarkable young man who is so passionate about so many things. I love to watch him ride his motorcycle and make jumps with his bare hands and the dirt. I love to watch him skate and play lacrosse. Mostly, I love to watch befriend everybody and reach out to those who don’t feel they fit in. A few weeks ago he got in trouble at the dinner table for teasing his younger brother, like brothers often do. He went to his room and then played the song, “I’m only human.” As we heard that music play in the distance we all fell out of our chairs laughing as Ethan came out of his room with a big smile. I am so proud of who he is today and even more excited to see what he becomes. The future is bright for him. Of course there’s Wyatt. He is a particular blessing to our family. Wyatt has a heart as big as his mind – and they both loom enormous. He is always thinking about others and has learned early in his life the true power of faith and prayer. He reminds me that often it is the least among us, the youngest and most inexperienced, who become the most powerful examples on earth. I know many adults who because they are educated think they are wise – they forget who they are and stop seeing the world through heaven’s eyes. They fumble in the most fundamental ways. Though Wyatt is young, he is a towering example of faith and goodness to our little family. When I think of my many blessings, Wyatt is chief among them. 

This Thanksgiving my heart will be filled to overflowing with gratitude. My cup, though cracked and tattered with loss and sorrow, is running over. Though my hands tremble from grief and my heart still quakes because I am tired and weak – I know to whom I must look to find strength for tomorrow. For there are battles ahead and many more tears to shed … but if we stick together and fight on, we'll find victory on the morrow.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of my favorite holidays; I love them for all that they are and the greater meanings they point to. Like anything of deep importance, there is often a greater meaning to things – even pain and suffering. The trouble is we can get lost on either sides of the spectrum. On the one hand, we can so get wrapped up in the tinsel and superficial of the holidays that we miss the point of things. Or, we can find ourselves on the other side of the spectrum and become fanatical and shun the fun of the holidays. Neither are balanced nor are they wise, for the things of the heart are discerned like an art and seen only with heavens eyes. 

In like manner, when I think of my sorrows, I will look past the paper and things I can see, and listen with my heart for the lessons of the soul Heaven tries to teach me. There is a greater meaning to everything – if only we'll open our other eyes. Then, and only then, will we truly see.