From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

A Thanksgiving Prayer

I wish they would only take me as I am.

Vincent van Gogh

“I hate Thanksgiving!” I moaned.

“You don’t mean that,” said my husband, Joe. He threw me a worried look as I grabbed my chef’s knife and pointed it in his direction before I returned to chopping the celery in front of me.

“Yes, I do.” I quickly grabbed an onion in hope of blaming the saltwater running down my cheeks on something other than my lousy frame of mind. While I knew I shouldn’t let it, the mailman’s morning delivery of another rejection letter for an article I’d submitted to a magazine made me feel like a black cloud of failure hung over my head.

Poor Joe. I never claimed to wear a halo, but he had had to run for cover more and more lately. I wiped my dripping forehead with the back of my free hand and fanned myself. I did loathe Thanksgiving, but there was a lot more going on here than rejections and a normal hissy fit. My doctor had warned me about mood swings, hot flashes, and sporadic periods. I knew the signs. It looked as if I’d officially entered menopause. This was it. Life was over.

“I’m done with writing. I’ll never get published,” I moaned out loud. There, I’d admitted the fear I’d been carrying inside for months. “Fifty is too old.”

Joe shook his head. “You’re making too big a deal out of one rejection, the same way you’re making too big a deal out of one holiday.”

“You don’t say. Well, if fighting crowds to shop, dragging bags stuffed with enough food to cause a hernia, and wrestling a slippery dead bird is so much fun, why don’t men do it?” I bit my lip, aware that the words popping out of my mouth resembled ugly, poisonous toads.

“Some do. Ever heard of chefs?” my hubby grinned.

Joe and his logic!

“You need a break,” he said. Keeping a careful eye on the position of my knife, he put his arms around me. “Go write something. I’ll finish the chopping. Forget about what others want. Write for yourself. Count your blessings. Tell you what, why don’t you write a special grace for tomorrow?”

“Fine,” I handed him the knife, removed my apron, and fled the kitchen for my office. He wanted me to write grace? He’d get it!

“Feel better?” Joe asked when I entered the kitchen later. A mound of peeled potatoes bore witness that we’d both spent our time wisely.

“Actually, I do. I finished writing my idea of grace.”

“Going to read it to me?”

“Tomorrow,” I promised.

The next day I had to admit that my Thanksgiving table never looked better. The scent of that crispy brown turkey, fluffy mashed potatoes, savory stuffing, and assorted vegetables made even my mouth water. Joe clinked his spoon against his glass as everyone took their seats. “Michele’s going to say grace.”

Seated, I announced, “The Menopausal Woman’s Thanksgiving Prayer.” I stood up, trying to ignore the raised eyebrows from some of those present. “Dear God,” I kept my eyes on the paper in front of me. “I’m thankful that having reached this period in life, I can now speak my mind and be considered wise, not obnoxious. I’m thankful that women my age will need bifocals to see the chin hairs that they missed plucking. I’m thankful that ninety-five percent of the stuff that I forget from here on will probably be unimportant anyway. I’m also thankful that Norman Rockwell painted his famous magazine cover with a perfect family and turkey as a model, not a rule of thumb.” I smiled at Joe. “I’m also thankful for a husband who understands and loves me, even when I’m having a hard time accepting that I have to face this phase of aging. But, most of all, I’m thankful that the patience, strength, and fortitude that I’ve learned and developed as a young girl, wife, and mother has empowered me to never give up. Amen.”

My family cheered as I sat down.

“Going to send that prayer out?”my husband whispered to me.

“Tomorrow,” I replied.

And I did.

Michele H. Lacina

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