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I took a little bit of a break from blogging last week.  It was a week of highs and lows…to the extreme either way.

My cousin, A., has been engaged for a while.  She’s gotten very close to her fiance’s family.  On Monday last week, her fiance’s father had a massive heart attack.  It’s not clear how much time passed before anyone found him, and he dwindled in a coma for several days.  On Thanksgiving, the family got word that there was no brain activity.  The only things sustaining him were the life support machines.

They had to make the awful decision to take him off of life support.  Thankfully, the family has their faith to sustain them; but, my heart goes out to them.  He died on Friday.

We had part of our family together on Thanksgiving.  There was plenty of food, wine and activity.  It was a bit subdued, as this has been a challenging year for our family.  This time last year, we were mourning my grandmother, who died the week before Thanksgiving.  My cousin, Lisa, has been fighting breast cancer valiantly.

With the challenges and sorrow, we’ve also had many blessings.  Our kids are both doing well, though having two teenagers in the house presents whole new worlds of aggravation and exasperation.  Another cousin announced that he and his wife are going to have a baby.  This coming weekend, my brother and new sister-in-law are coming to town, along with many of our far-flung relatives, for a wedding reception.  My mother is completely covered in spray glue and glitter, as is most of her home, my dad and their psycho cat.

I’m going to take a cue from Chatterbox_Sara and list out several items to play catch-up:

November 22nd:  Short weeks during the holidays – it makes the days busier, but I love having long weekends.

November 23rd:  Technology – thanks to cell phones and text messaging, we could stay connected to our family during the unfortunate events of the week.

November 24th:  Family – as dysfunctional as our family can be, it was truly something to be together and listen to each person talk about what they are thankful for.  I love our family.

November 25th:  Getting to help – My mother is turning her house inside out in preparation for the wedding reception this weekend.  The kids and I spent Friday helping out.  I helped finalize some of the decorations and the kids helped my dad string little white lights around the back yard.  It’s going to be beautiful, and I’m grateful that we could help my mom out.

November 26th:  Shopping local – Isabel and I met up with Lisa and her youngest daughter down in Old Town Glendale.  There are streets full of little shops full of one of a kind items and crafts.  I found gifts for my mother and my husband that I would never have thought of, but that will be perfect.  We had a lovely lunch outside, and enjoyed the beautiful fall day.

November 27th:  Christmas decorations – we have a small house, and finding ways to rearrange our furniture to accommodate a tree can be a challenge.  This year, the artificial tree that we’ve had for several years had a definite lean and seemed to be taking up even more space than normal.  I went out and found a slim tree that perfectly tucks in next to our sofa without sticking too far out into the room.  Dave and the kids helped to decorate, and it was fun to explain where each ornament came from.  I absolutely love our Christmas tree decorations.  We don’t have anything generic.  Every ornament has meaning or has come from someplace special.  It’s a hodgepodge of items collected from around the world or handmade by people who love us.  I wouldn’t trade it for all of the perfectly coordinated trees in the world.  We’ve collected an ornament (or several) per year for each of us.  When the kids move out on their own, they will get to take their own ornaments with them.  My mother did that for my brothers and I.  We started out on our own with well-loved items.  Also, several years ago, I made a tree skirt out of felt.  Every year, I spread it out around the base and smile, thinking of the time that went into it.

November 28th:  For today, I am grateful for good books found through recommendations from my friends, for blue skies and for autumn roses.

I’m participating in #30daysofThanks, inspired by my friend, Amanda, over at www.memydogsmylife.com.  We are finding one thing each day in November to be grateful for.  Join in!  Just use the tag #30daysofThanks and blog or Tweet your daily item.

(image credit)