Bittersweet Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2011

Photos by Camille

‘What to Wear’ to the first Thanksgiving dinner without Nelson?  A vintage veiled headpiece, a vintage off white lace bed jacket trimmed in satin, and a black maxi skirt to mark the significance of a day that marched into The SC’s life as holidays do; life does not stand still during loss.  The lace a representation of the intricacies of a relationship that on this holiday were felt more deeply than any other day of the year, a team of two closely united in ritual. For decades we had been partners in a tradition, host and hostess, in creative preparation for this day of gratitude.  The festive atmosphere, the lush menu, the holiday diorama accessorized with candles on the front porch, the flurry of the last few hours before guests arrive.  Tradidtionally there has always been a gathering of loved ones around the carefully set table with the vintage rose patterned china, the abundance of flowers, the glowing candles, the playlist of jazz and blues.  This year a sense of presence and absence as the day unfolded. We circled the table, family and friends, each of us proclaiming our gratitude for life and a special memory of Nelson. Tales of his discipline, his kindness, his determination, his love.  A newborn baby boy was in attendance.  There can never be a replacement of a much loved person.  Only a symbol of the cycle of life and its mysterious portals. The painful shift of dynamics, yet precious moments of expressions of love, support and mutual sadness.  The bittersweet festival of appreciation for all that remains and all that has been lost. All that has been forever changed.

20 Responses to “Bittersweet Thanksgiving”

  1. Pam @over50feeling40

    Beautifully said, Judith! You are such a lovely tribute to Nelson with your writing and your exquisite styling. I am thankful that I got to know Nelson through your words. This bed jacket is so incredibly gorgeous…thank you for all you share with us.

  2. Vix

    Your writing is beautiful, as is your outfit. You are so right, life does not stand still and it feels almost like a betrayal to celebrate a special occasion without our loved ones at our side.
    I know Nelson was there with you in spirit and full of admiration at your grace and spirit. x

  3. Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    You look so beautiful, and your writing moves me to tears. You are right, life can only go in one direction. But special days do pull us into the memories of holidays past.
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. janine

    Beautiful writing, beautiful memories. And a lovely way to honor Nelson. I know this is now difficult beyond comprehension, and I wish there were more we could concretely do for you, especially during this season. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. Thinking of you so much —

  5. déjà pseu

    What a beautiful and poignant description of past and present Thanksgivings. Life indeed does not stand still; it demands that we keep moving forward. I love reading about the thought and symbolism that went into the choosing of your outfit.

  6. WendyB

    Beautifully written as always. I like that your attire also tells a story.

  7. Willa

    Judith, I very much appreciate your description of “presence and abence” as it represents what many of us experience as we approach the holidays with an important person newly among those missing. Thank you for voicing that sense of loss so lovingly. I also note your recognitioin of expressions of love, support, and of the presence of new life so full of promise. Holidays mark time and give us prompting to pause and take measure of where we are in life’s journey of constant change. I send you my best wishes and support as you move through these next weeks where you will notice change at every turn. — On another note, I adore the bed jacket. I’m a huge fan and wear them often. Bed jackets are underappreciated in my opinion, and I love seeing one featured in this post.

  8. Susan Tiner

    I feel the presence and absence of Nelson and your loved ones in this beautifully written post, and the beautiful photos of what you wore. I love the way you integrate style into life’s processes, including grief. Thank you for another beautiful post.

  9. Sylvia @ 40PlusStyle

    I feel your sadness and your post brought tears to my eyes. As always you write beautifully about your grieving process and the challenges of life moving on without one so dearly loved. As usual you also look wonderful.

  10. Linda

    Judith, stopping in to read another of your heartbreaking, uplifting, and ever-true expressions is the closing bookend to my own Thanksgiving weekend. A gift, every time you write. My heart continues to go out to you.

  11. carolyn

    Thankful for you and your generous sharing with us

  12. rose

    I thought that this holiday would be a hard one for you, but you have handled so beautifully, and with such grace. The beauty of your writing is superb, and brings each of us into your inner world, and we get the priveledge of seeing and feeling as you do. That is a rare gift, my dear.

    How wonderful your holidays with Nelson must have been. It is such a treat to be able to share your home and your love with others. As I have said so many times before, you honor him so beautifully.

    Much love from England,

  13. That's Not My Age

    Beautifully written, and so poignant. As you say, life doesn’t stand still – but you will always have your memories of Nelson to cherish.


    So profound, so true and so beautiful.
    Your words are like that lace cape that one has no advetive to add to it.
    Much love, my dear friend.

  15. Shelley

    This is such a moving piece of writing–my heart goes out to you for all that you’ve lost. Things will never be the same for you, but that does not mean that they won’t be good. You have such an open heart and mind that you will always have love and support in your life. You look beautiful, as always, and there is a touch of “pilgrim” in your outfit.

  16. Adrienne

    My mother lost my father more than 40 years ago after a happy 18 year marriage and she still misses him very much. Loss is so difficult especially when you were so happily matched. I am very sorry for your loss. I am especially happy to see you are morning the loss my mother tried to act like nothing had happened and I think as a result it took her much longer to process and work through the loss. You are not doing that which I think is a much healthier thing to do. Bravo to you for the way you honor your husband’s memory. Just my two cents.

  17. Paula

    Sounds like you had splendid holidays! My heart goes out to you–I’m sure this first year will be particularly vacant. I’m sure you are thankful for the family and friends you did have–God bless~

  18. Wendy

    Thank you for sharing, Judith. I’m so sorry for your pain in this holiday season. I’m certain though, that your fabulous wardrobe and beautiful smile have brightened many more than just my day. I’m looking forward to your next post.

  19. Desiree

    Oh Judith what a beautiful way to describe the deep sadness and joy of that circle of life. You look radiant in your beautiful veiled hat and lace cape. Yes the intricacies of lace are a perfect way to describe the way you must have been feeling this year. Molti abbraccio e baci. Desiree xoxoxoxo

  20. Serene

    Judith, it touches me the way your clothes move beyond a “fashion statement” into symbolic meaning. I think you’ve so wisely used your creative outlet to channel your grief and to teach the rest of us something as well. The whole “fashion” experience needn’t be a shallow vain undertaking of trying to “put on” for the rest of the world’s admiration. It can be an outlet to express our true selves to the world. I’m so glad that your day was spent being thankful for your beloved Nelson…..don’t our cups truly run over? Much love to you….everytime I see your picture my mother comes to mind. She was elegant and beautiful just like you. She had such great style! And she was delicately featured like you as well. Makes you a bit extra special to me, if you don’t mind my saying. ~Serene

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