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Letting Go And Giving Thanks

I clearly remember the day I took our daughter to kindergarten. Within minutes she was settled in and waving goodbye. The walk to my car was difficult because tears blurred my vision. It seems like only yesterday.

This fall, my husband and I took that same little girl to college. Though she took more equipment with her (two vehicles full), the results were the same. She turned and waved at me, happy and ready to begin another adventure in her life.

My husband bragged about how stoic this “goodbye” to our only daughter appeared.

“You did great!” he proclaimed. “Not even one tear.”

I patted myself on the back for being so brave, but I should have known better. Later in the week, I was at the grocery store, and as I walked by a display of Rachel’s favorite drink, I found myself struggling to hold back the tears.

I know as silly as crying over a soft drink display is, I would cry more if Rachel hadn’t gone to college. I want her to go. However, saying goodbye, even for a week or two, is something I’m not accustomed to. I took Lamaze classes to prepare for my children’s arrival, but what class can prepare you to let go?

A few nights after the grocery store episode, I watched a segment on the news about women and education in Afghanistan. It showed that for the first time in years, Afghan girls are allowed to go to school. This knowledge helped me put things into perspective.

“Many men still do not want women to have an education. It will be a long time before we feel safe. I have bodyguards to protect me when I go to work,” said an Afghan teacher.

How easily we take for granted the many privileges of living in America.

When my great-grandmother, Gertie Neville Shirley, was the age my daughter is now, her school years were already long behind her. She would never have dreamed of going to college. In her day and time, women weren’t allowed to vote and only a handful had careers other than homemaking. What a different world we live in.

This Thanksgiving let us give thanks for those brave men and women who defend the privileges we sometimes take for granted, for, because of them, we send our sons and our daughters to college.

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours.

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