​Thanksgiving 2020

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on November 24, 2020 # COVID-19, Lifestyle

I Love Thanksgiving! I love the whole fall season, the orange and white pumpkins, the leaves turning the beautiful autumn colors, cooler cozy weather, meal prep, and planning for the huge feast. I don’t even mind the grocery shopping when it comes to that menu. I’m used to hosting a group of 30+ people with all the kids running around, parents sipping wine or apple cider, and enjoying the delicious homemade appetizers. The house smells so good as the Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared, us ladies squeezing into my 2-butt kitchen we call it that because it’s so small. All the family favorites, traditional recipes, and wonderful side dishes.Collie nerf gun fight

Before we eat, we have a giant nerf gun war. We split into teams and run around our property. We change up the game each year. By the end of the crazy chaos, we have hundreds of nerf pellets to pick up! I usually find nerf pellets throughout the year hidden or stuck in my bushes. It’s a lot of fun. Even the older kids and some of the grown-ups participate. It has created some funny and great memories.

Since March of 2020, this worldwide coronavirus continues to keep us all constantly adjusting to the ups and downs and our new normal. What a year to remember!

Thanksgiving will be different this year, small gathering, staying 6 ft. apart etc.

I sent out a message to the extended family who usually comes to my house. I sent pictures from last Thanksgiving and talked about how much we will miss it this year. I think it also gave us a perspective of just how special those times together really are now that we can’t get together in person. It reminded me what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about. We all celebrate differently. I love hearing other traditions amongst their own family.

We always say what we are grateful for. We have done these multiple ways. We have gone around the room each sharing, we have tossed a soft ball or item to the next person to share, we have written down our thoughts on index cards, we have had just the kids participate. These have all worked and is the one part that really makes me feel connected to my guests. I like to hear what’s been going on in their lives throughout the past year. We usually do this after the meal and before pumpkin pie and desserts. I plan to still hear from family, but it will be via text, email, FaceTime or Zoom.pumpkin pie

One thing I am truly grateful for is that my family has survived multiple tragedies even sudden deaths of loved ones, but here we are. Life goes on; it does not slow down for any one person. You always have that choice, even if it does not feel like that. Allow yourself to grieve if you’ve gone through something hard. One example was when my 15-year-old son Zackery broke his neck at the beach, becoming a C-4 Quadriplegic before he finished his freshman year of high school. Unless you have experienced something similar, it's hard to imagine the shock and the pain. Pain that can still bring me to tears at the loss. Yet, Zack being my inspiration and him choosing to move forward in spite of this devastating reality, has made a good life for himself. Zack graduated from high school with his class in 2013. He received his college degree in 2018 slow and steady. He is now in his second year of a master’s program in counseling. He lives independently with his fiancé’ and caregiver help. Zack recently got his driver's license and a wheelchair accessible van to drive himself. He has a YouTube Channel (Zack Collie) that he uses for Spinal Cord Awareness showing videos of his life as a paralyzed quadriplegic. A few of his videos have millions of views. He gets comments from people all over the globe, saying he has inspired them in some way. This is a perfect example of something I can be Grateful for this 2020 Thanksgiving. Everyone Stay Safe. Stay Grateful!

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.