**In homage and tribute to the extraordinary book, “What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self,” by Ellyn Spragins.**
You can hardly sleep. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, your favorite holiday. As you lay wide awake, with your 27 stuffed animals scattered about you, you run through tomorrow’s festivities.
After breakfast, Mom will start rifling through your closest to help you pick out your favorite dress, white tights and black Mary Janes. Ali and Jackie will then come barreling into your room—Ginger following behind, her amazing tail knocking down everything in its way. There will be time for a quick “Sister Hug;” as a five-year-old child, this is without question one of the highlights of your day.
“Sister Hug,” your 15- and 18-year-old sisters will exclaim, their arms wide open towards you. You’ll race towards them, melting into their embrace, feeling so lucky for the incredible bond you have with your older sisters.
Dad will come in next, letting us know we have a few more minutes until all our guests arrive, but not before giving you a big ole hug. Gosh, you are one lucky child.
Fully dressed—barrettes and all—you will head downstairs with your family, eagerly awaiting the arrival of your cousins, Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents. Your favorite traditions will follow:
You’ll sneak away with your cousins, aged 7, 6 and 3 to play—back in an age when all you needed was a creative imagination for amusement.
At around 4 pm, you’ll dart to the kitchen so you can arrange marshmallows in concentric circles atop the sweet potatoes.
Mom and Dad will welcome everyone to “14th annual but not necessarily consecutive Schmelkin Thanksgiving Dinner.” Dad will give his customary toast, with Mom chiming in.
Time to eat!
When you are done, you and your cousins will scurry under the dining room table and start tying together the shoes of the adults still eating. They will pretend they don’t know what you are doing even though you do the same thing every year. You will all giggle at your sheer genius.
Someone will decide they also want to give a toast and so will begin the extemporaneous speech portion of the evening. You will absolutely give a speech and, secretly, you hope your “kid” speech will be the best.
There will be time for a few more games and hugs and then everyone will leave.
Ginger will check the floor for scraps that got away, Ali and Jackie will head to their rooms to do “teenage things” and you will crawl into bed.
At even just five years old, Carrie, you recognize that you have an incredibly special, loving family with deep traditions. You are grateful for that. You don’t know it yet but every Thanksgiving will still give you the feeling it gives you now, whether you are 10, 15 or 21.
But I need you to do a few things for me tomorrow… things you’ll wish you had done by the time you get my age, 30. Here’s what I need you to do:
Go spend some extra time with Pop. You love his cuddles, laugh and raspy voice. But you should start asking him questions. Pop runs his own business, and in 25 years, you are going to start your own company. Find out what he thinks it takes to be successful. Ask him about his biggest challenge. Listen… see where he takes the conversation. And then give him a big hug. In 10 years from now, he will pass away right before Thanksgiving. You need to spend more time with him.
Give a GREAT Thanksgiving speech. This probably won’t surprise you but you will end up having a career that involves a great degree of public speaking. So, practice.
You are a Chatty Cathy, but you need to work on listening. You are going to struggle with this as you get older, always wanting to be the center of attention (third child syndrome).
Give your parents extra hugs, kisses and cuddles. Let them know how much you love them. You don’t yet realize the incredible, selfless way they will support all your dreams. They will be your biggest advocates. They will dream for you when you are afraid to do so.
Pause in that moment for just a minute—you know the one I am talking about. That moment in the night where an overwhelming feeling of joy, fearlessness and belief that you can truly do anything sweeps over you. When life feels particularly challenging in the years ahead, you are going to need to remember how you felt in that exact moment.
So, Carrie, I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings. You will have an exhilarating journey ahead. You will meet some of the most awe-inspiring, courageous individuals who will rock your professional and personal belief systems… for the better. You will face a number of obstacles along the way, but through it you will learn about the importance of resilience and grit. You will succeed and then once you do, you will set your sights on succeeding again… but differently. And you will change, recognizing that to change is to grow and to grow is to receive the best gift of all.
**My warmest, deepest appreciation and gratitude for the incredible friends and family who have touched my heart, stimulated my mind and forever positively impacted my being. Happy Thanksgiving!**
Carrie Majewski is committed to affecting change. As Founder of the Women in Leadership Nexus, Carrie is fueled by a desire to create safe space for female luminaries to convene to redefine the notion of leadership. She has forged a career around strategic writing and storytelling, having led a digital marketing agency for almost three years and today working as Marketing Principal for Trilix Tech. Carrie was named to the 2017 Rhode Island “40 Under 40” list and is a 2016 Rhode Island Tech10 Winner. In her spare time you'll find her trying out a local hip-hop class, exploring parks with her rescue dog Tori, and sipping coffee with other powerhouse women.