Another Thanksgiving. More food. More family. More laughter. More reflecting.
As I reflected on the years of holidays past, I decided to do a Thanksgiving roll call of sorts.
My hardest thanksgiving was the year after my mother passed away. She died in October, and I remember dreading the holidays. How could we celebrate when the most important woman in our lives just died? How could we eat dinner, knowing that her signature dishes – lasagna and German chocolate cake – were missing from the line-up? What laughter could there be without hearing hers mingled in after a joke told by one of her brothers? So, that year, we decided to not do Thanksgiving at home in Chicago. We had relatives in Mississippi, so my sister and I decided that we needed to be with them. One of the best decisions we made. We always loved being with them. But, that year, they loved us well. Space to grieve as we needed, laugh as we wanted, rest. But, not having the constant reminders and the “remember whens” was life-giving. Two decades later, I am still grateful.
To those of you who may be experiencing your first (or second or third, etc.) holiday season without a loved one. I’m sorry. It’s hard. It’s so hard. Do what you need to do to grieve. Don’t be strong. Be real. One day. It will get easier. You won’t forget, but the pain will not be as intense, the void will not be as breath-taking. God’s grace to you. May He send people to hold you, sit with you, let you cry, or just be.
Craziest Thanksgiving Preparation
2009. I was in an awful place emotionally. We had miscarried the previous year and I was disappointed that we had not conceived again yet (not to mention I had other health issues that could not seem to get resolved). We decided to host Thanksgiving at our home that year. I was running errands in preparation, and as I reflected on the year, yelled out in frustration to God, “Why pray???! You’re going to do what you want anyway! I give up. Just do what you want. Fine.”
I walk into the house with my husband sitting on the couch with his leg propped up on the ottoman. “I put my foot through the ceiling.” Still irritated (and clearly not listening), I respond, “Ok. Fine”. I walk into the bedroom, and look up. There it was. A hole. The size of a man’s foot. In the ceiling. A husband. With a badly sprained ankle. And people coming. With food that needed to be cooked, a home that need to be cleaned.
“God. I take it all back.”
2010. A year after the above incident – the one when I lamented about the inability to conceive, and shook my fist at God. Just one year later, we were bringing home our Thanksgiving baby. Enoch was born the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and we brought him home that Monday. Prior to his arrival, we thought it would be a great idea to have our families join us for Thanksgiving (he was due November 12). That turned out to not be the best laid plan – no one can prepare you for how hormonal and emotional you will be those first few days/weeks/months. However, the memories of being surrounded by both of our families who were as excited as we were about meeting this child we never expected was priceless…even if I did spend a significant amount of Thanksgiving Day locked in my room, rocking the baby and inexplicably crying at random times. I would not trade that Thanksgiving for anything. To see my grandfather, holding my first child, in my first home is a memory I will always treasure.
Worst Thanksgiving Dish
In my family, when someone says they are bringing cobbler, there is just one type expected – peach. So, when a relative said that was her contribution, it was scratched off the potluck list – with excitement. Dessert time comes around and out comes the cobbler. We gathered around, grabbed spoons, plates, and waited. The cut was made. What is that??? Sweet potato. See. We do sweet potato pies OR peach cobbler, but not a sweet potato cobbler. To this day, I don’t know that anyone knows how it tasted, because after the disappointment people refused to eat it.
Too many to choose. Over the years I have met some pretty amazing people. We have had some pretty amazing times. I’m grateful for those who took me in as a single woman living far away from home. Grateful for those who gave us examples of what it looked to host Thanksgiving when we were a young married couple. I so appreciate those who accepted invitations to join us for Thanksgiving when we hosted at our home. And those who grafted us in as family, where they were, we were invited to be – because… family.