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Turning the tables on Turkey Day

I make a living asking questions. Sometimes that means asking questions I don’t necessarily want to ask of people I don’t necessarily want to talk to.

In comparison to asking the one question I most wanted to ask to the one person I most enjoy talking to, those questions, “the tough questions,” seem easy.

But like I did with those scary interviews in my early days of doing journalism, I went to the bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror, and told myself I would be a total failure if I didn’t gather the courage to just go for it, and I went for it.

This Thanksgiving, the thing I was most thankful for was that Jenn, my girlfriend of almost three years and total best friend, said yes when I asked her to marry me.

It was the most memorable Thanksgiving of my life, which is actually a big win for me.

As a reporter, it’s my job to find and report stories. Well, here’s mine.

My parents divorced when I was a junior in high school. It was, to 16-year-old me, completely unexpected.

I could write a novel on the effects it had on me, the struggle I went through to grasp and accept what was happening, but I’ll just not. What you need to know is this: Thanksgiving 2008 was the last time my family — mother, father, siblings — was together and whole.

My parents were already working out terms of separation by that time, but had kept most of it relatively quiet. We went around the table, said thanks, not knowing it was our family’s last supper. My mom cooked a wonderful meal.

The next day, my dad told me he was staying elsewhere for a while. The end. Happy Thanksgiving.

The holiday became a sore spot for years afterward. It was a time to reflect on the sadness divorce can bring to a family, the backward progress made financially and emotionally, and it made it generally hard to be thankful for things.

Eventually the fervor died down, and it became more of a celebration than a sad vigil. Mostly because my mom became a more independent person, and her growth from that destruction continues to inspire me today.

Yet the stigma lingered.

So being that I had this great love in my life, and was ready to make a lasting commitment to it, I took great pleasure in painting over those memories with broad, bright strokes.

Thanksgiving means a lot to me. It still does carry with it that sadness, but the prevailing thought isn’t the breaking apart of a family, but rather the bonding of two families into one.

It’s all those ups and downs. That’s life. That’s what we’re supposed to be thankful for.

As for me, I’m engaged now. That’s admittedly an absurd proposition, but I’m confident, excited, and, having learned from my parents, no longer naïve.

Marriage is the longest commitment. Even children grow to be independent. Marriages don’t ever learn to start functioning on their own. I used to think they did, but now I know differently.

It’s another thing I have to be thankful for.

— ELIOT SILL

Last modified Dec. 4, 2014

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