Growing up, Thanksgiving was my Aunt Tandy’s cornbread dressing, my Aunt Trena’s sweet potatoes and my Granny’s peach cobbler with the homemade crust. But more than that, it was the time of year I admired the women in my family most, especially my mother.
Most of the women in my family raised their children alone. While my mother was married to my father, his drug addiction kept him in the streets or behind prison bars. And even though it was a struggle at times for my mother to care for three children, I do not remember the struggle. I remember the woman who always showed up and gave us the best holiday celebrations.
And now that I am a mother, I find myself clinging to my mother’s strength more and more these days. This holiday season has been my most trying as a mother. Just two weeks into November, I was denied Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. My family and I had been receiving benefits for the past year, and were told that we no longer qualified for benefits because of the military’s basic housing allowance. What the State has yet to figure out is that by living on base, my husband and I forfeited our right to a housing allowance.
On the same day I was denied benefits, I underwent a medical procedure that probably crushed my husband’s hopes of persuading me to have more children. It has also put me under an immense amount of stress and worry. And as we near the day, the day when people come together to give thanks, I feel very weak.
I am not surrounded by the circle of strong women I grew up around. They are back in San Antonio, planning and prepping for my family’s Thanksgiving gathering. In Bellevue, it is just me, my husband and my two young children. But no matter how weak I feel on today, I will have to be that strong woman for my family on Thanksgiving Day because I do not want my children to remember the struggle. I want them to remember the woman who always showed up and gave them the best holiday celebrations.
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