A wall of chill hits me as I open the door to let the dogs out. I hadn’t bothered to grab a jacket or robe, so the goosebumps are standing tall on my arms and legs. It makes me feel alive.
As I sit on the steps of the old porch, looking out over the vast view, a tinge of fog has planted itself at the base of the distant blue hills as a blinding streak of light lasers itself to my eyes, forcing my hand up to shield my face. Blades of grass and tall weeds are flashing like neon as they sway with the breeze, and dancing white highlights kiss the leaves of the silhouetted great twisted oaks. We like to call this “California weather,” which comes to Texas in the spring, and in late fall once the heat has gone home for the season.
Later today we will celebrate one of our sons’ return from college, about eight hours away. We don’t get to see him as much as the other two, who are “drop in” distance for some weekends. We’re looking forward to reuniting our family and spending a couple of months before their return to campus.
What’s Different This Time?
All too often we take family for granted. Yet many families across the world are missing loved ones, many of whom were victims of COVID-19. What will you and I do with our families the next time we gather? How will our interactions be different — knowing we’re fortunate to have one another, or, heaven forbid, wondering if this time together will be our last?
Give Up Everything
When playing golf one day, a buddy of mine said, “I would give everything I own, give up all of my wealth, for just one more hour with my mom and dad.” It’s a story we’ve heard before. Yet how will we treat our loved ones if we’re together this Thanksgiving?
Will we revert to reacting to the buttons others tend to push in us? Will be we loving, appreciative, and trying to create special moments? Or will we open old wounds or resort to old ways?
I have friends who refuse to return home because of their wounds, because of tough memories of how they were raised, or wronged. But could they get beyond that?
No Chance for a Farewell
Another friend was estranged from her dad for close to 20 years, with no contact. She carried her anger over her past, and yet, the moment he passed, she commented that she suddenly regretted not taking the high road, getting beyond her wounds, and healing a relationship that she now cannot heal.
For those of us lucky enough to be with our families, this is a great opportunity to avoid returning to our old habits, letting go of our fears and anger. No sin is unforgivable, even the worst of the worst. And though sometimes it’s simply best to avoid people who hurt or wronged you — which certainly would be understandable because of certain actions. But perhaps, in most cases, we can turn the other cheek?
As a dad who almost lost a son to a heart attack this past January, I want my time with him (and my other kids) to be the best possible memory. I don’t want him to be eager to get back to college because he wants to get away from his family. Instead I want to engage him, appreciate him, and create special memories that will plant themselves in his brain forever. And as a son who lost his mother about a year and a half ago, I look back with some regrets about not taking the effort and time to be there for her more, and get to know her more deeply.
I think we fall into this mindset of “I’ll do those things someday,” but then we’re often surprised to learn we’ve lost our chance.
Don’t lose your chance this season.
Ask yourself, what would I want? How would I want to be treated? Be that person.
What We All Want
Those around us may never live up to our expectations, may never perform in the way we want of them. But instead of being critical or demanding, how about just letting go? How about accepting who they are, and loving who they are? How about encouraging and appreciating them? After all, that’s what we all want.
Growing to Be Loved
As a parent the temptation is to project what I want for my kids on to my kids. I’m sure they can feel the pressure, but the only thing I really care about is that they grow up to be loved, appreciated, and live quality lives. Of course I don’t want them to make the mistakes I made or to throw valuable time away. But, as I said recently, I also want them to grow from pain.
Lots of us are keeping our distance to prevent the spread of the virus, but lots of us will be thrown together anyway. When your family arrives, hug them like it’s the last time, and seek to bring joy to this time together.
Don’t look back with regrets. Hold back on judgment, but don’t hold back on love and encouragement. Treat this time as the last time. Treat every time as if it’s the last time. One day it will be.
PS: This year I’m going to slip out on the porch and give you a special message on Thanksgiving. Watch for it, and if it’s worth reading, read it at the Thanksgiving table.
PS2: I’m really excited. Here I was worried about surviving and staying in business, and because we pivoted to virtual online art conferences, we’re going to make it. Yay! But I’ve got to keep it going to keep all these wonderful people employed so they can make memories for their families. If you think you might like to learn watercolor, even if you don’t believe you have the talent, sign up for my Watercolor Live learning event in January. Somehow we’ve managed to get the very best watercolor masters in the world to teach, and we’ve also created a Beginner’s Day. I’d be grateful if you would check it out and maybe give it to someone as a Christmas gift.
I thank you for this remarkable gift, your words of wisdom. For they have the capacity to lift my Spirit, facilitate deep reflection and forward thinking. I am so grateful for you and all that you do! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!
Peace of God and Blessings of hysterical laughter,
Eric, You’re the best! Thank you for your weekly insightful messages; they make my Sundays!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. All the best and God Bless :-).
This was beautiful. Thank you. Our Thanksgiving table will be minus extended family and friends this year. Missing them already. We are having a small gathering of relatives in the area and social distancing while we eat our Thanksgiving dinner together. I plan to check in with distant family and friends via telephone and Skype this week just to touch base and tell them I love them.
Thank you Eric. Wise words. Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving from Canada!
hello, i thank you for your words of courage. my husband die last Christmas eve. we were married for 62 years. i thank GOD for those years together. i live along. but god has his hand on each one of us. we just have to TRUST HIM. His words says that HE will never leave us or forsake us. the LOVE of his is so wonderful. i wish ALL a VERY Happy Thanksgiving and a VERY HAPPY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND THE VERY BEST NEW YEAR WITH ALL OF GOD TO BLESSING FOR ALL. THANK YOU FOR THE ARTISTS AND YOU SHOWING THE VEDIOES..ALSO. Thanks iva
Thank you for your lovely message again. You are a wonderful writer too! Very expressive with words and philosophy. Have a good week and Thanksgiving with the family.
We in Canada have ours earlier in October.
Eric…your words as always will be passed along…have a good holiday no matter what you do…Peggy
How true, Eric. I believe that love does not die when we die, and the measure of that love is the importance that we place on the memories of those that have gone on before us. We are
called to remember.
Happy Thanksgiving, Eric!! I am most grateful for you every Sunday morning when I read your “Coffee with Eric” article. You are simply THE BEST!!!
Thank you once again for your wonderful words of wisdom. My husband passed a year ago today after a long illness, also losing my Mother & brother within a 6 year period . I spent a great deal of time with them as their caregiver but sometimes it seems that was not enough. I often think to myself I would like to have one more day with them. So today , in this season of thanksgiving I celebrate them in memory and looking forward to the time once again that we can share openly with our families. Wishing you and your family a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.
Eric took watercolor lessons back in high school, from a man named Bud Biggs.it was one of most wonderful experiences I had and then I got a second time with this gentleman in Cloudcroft,New Mexico.wow don’t have the words for it was just totally awesome but I have not painted in watercolors in quite some time .so I’m looking forward to just starting over and The Beginner’s for the one-day session look forward to it.
I look forward to reading your Sunday Coffee each and every week. And, yes, I’ve signed up for the WatercolorLIVE workshops and passed that information onto my students. What a fun adventure to look forward to.
Your morning videos and video clips have kept me afloat during such a scary and difficult year. I can’t thank you enough. And being a watercolor devotee, I’m so very grateful you’re turning some of your attention toward this magical medium.
In short, thank you, Eric, for all you do!
Brilliant. You’re someone I would like to know. Happy Thanksgiving, your friend Paul
Thank you for this timely reflection. These days do call for us all to look deeply in to our hearts and realize there’s a need for awakening. As artists we might try to find fulfillment and identity in our art journey. At this point in my life that has been a renewed passion and earnest.
Last August 29th, on a late Saturday night, I was wholly engrossed in working on a portrait painting that I was calling ” Beauty Out of Ashes”.
Suddenly I received a call from my daughter. She was crying and frantic. “Mom, she cried, We are on our way to the ER. Pray mom, I am hemorrhaging profusely, I am having the baby!” Laurelen was at 32 weeks in her pregnancy. She was in a hotel in Atlanta with her husband as they were there on business.
I dropped everything and literally cried out to God to have mercy and save her and the baby. I called my husband who was out of town. I didn’t know till recently that the ER staff told my son in law to prepare to make a decision. Which one would they save? After a blood transfusion and C-section both mom and baby were saved. I thank God daily for sparing their lives.
It has now been 12 weeks since that night. They are still in Atlanta after Theodosia (gift from God) has been in the NICU and is now in care with the Children’s Hospital specialist. She was born with a rare Chromosome 9 deficiency. She is beautiful and thriving. Needless to say, I have been traveling back and forth from Louisville and Atlanta helping my daughter with her other two children. They will finally be coming home December 10th. Of course, all of this have taken place in the midst of Covid and chaos all around us.
So I share all of this as identifying with what you shared this morning. I have continued to complete the painting and dream of fulfilling future goals in expanding my art journey. I’ve waited a long time. At the same time, life has been disrupted by needs far greater than my personal desires.
I wanted to attend the Realism Live Conference, prepare for competitions and pour my heart into my painting. I have had to set those aside for now and do what I am able. I am planning to attend Watercolor Live and heartily press on in drawing and painting. The competitions will come again.
My family is a precious gift from God. We have seen His miraculous hand in much diversity, waiting and trial. Though we cannot be together this Thanksgiving we have peace in knowing that there is hope and rest in the unrest by God’s grace.
Thank you, Eric, for expressing what all of us need to hear in these days when so many express negative, hateful and hopeless words.
Your hope digs deep and is obvious. I am so grateful for your encouragement and leadership for all artists throughout a world in need of beauty and direction. The influence of your life is much cherished and appreciated.
A Blessed Thanksgiving!
Every Sunday morning I look forward to what you will have to say to encourage me. We all have so many regrets about the past, but the past is only for learning from . I appreciated this so much this morning, and it was a reminder to me of how I should act and react toward my family and friends.
Thank you so much.
I forwarded this to my two children. I don’t know if they will read it but it applies so much to how they treat me. I took care of my mom in her last years. I don’t understand how/why they treat me like I don’t matter. I’ve been hurt by their actions so many times that my “give a damn” is broken. My goal, when they were growing up, was to be there for them. To give them a firm foundation that they felt secure with themselves. I know how it feels to NOT have that feeling. I became the adult when I was five years old. I know I was successful with them as it gave them the courage to leave me when their father and I divorced. Talk about a hurting thing…
Thanks for all the good advice. I enjoy reading you post every week.
Thank you Eric, today’s Coffee with Eric is right on target. Great advice that I will follow today and every day.
A big thank you for your heartfelt message Eric that is very powerful and hope will encourage all of us to act accordingly.
Bless the family around your table and Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving.
I am a painter, both in oil and watercolor. Having taught for man years a watercolor technique and sensibility with considerable success.
You can see much of my work on Facebook as well as on Instagram. chanit.com as well as www. cometocentralpark.com
I would love to be considered as one of the instructors on your platform.
Dear Eric, I am new to “Sunday Coffee”. I have enjoyed your program for the last 3-4 weeks and am grateful to have found it. Faith based messages are few and far between and are often overbearing. Keep up the good work and I look forward to hearing more from you.
Wishing you and your family peace and blessings!
I gave up my job with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to read for a degree in Geology. I then went on to do a PGCE in Science with Geology as my specialist subject so that I could become a teacher. I was a mature student. I was 42 when I started and by the time I graduated to become a teacher I was 46. My journey started in 2007 two years after my mother had passed. My father had passed away back in 1997. Neither of them saw this or ever had any inclination that I would even attempt to. I think they would have fallen off their chairs in surprise that their son had graduated, become a teacher and a Fellow of two learned societies. I would love to have seen their faces and to have seen their reaction. I would like to think they would be very proud of me and what I have achieved. It is something I have reflected on often and wished I had done whilst they were still alive to see it.
Thank you for your Sunday morning thoughts, Eric. Like most children whose parents have passed, I do often think about our relationship and about ways in which it might have been different. Things I didn’t say, but should have. Things I could have done differently. Being less experienced than their parents and often less aware, children may make it difficult for parents to communicate effectively with them.
It sounds as if you communicate well with your children which is wonderful. It speaks well of both your and your children’s sensitivity and awareness.
May your and your family’s holidays be joyful and rewarding.
So inspiring. Excellent advice.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Great job on the newsletter.
Eric, your Sunday morning reflection was so deep and special. Many of us have regrets; however, there is still time for us to lessen those regrets by being more proactive with the ones we love. Your message really touched home. I lost both of my parents in a matter of less than three years. There are times when I want to pick up the phone and call them, but realizing it is now an impossibility. I, too, wish I had spent more time with them rather than excusing the separation due to busyness. Once again, thank you for such a beautiful message as I begin a new day.