Thanksgiving is my favorite.
Not every year has been Martha Stewart perfect, of course. I can barely remember that first Thanksgiving after Sam’s death, which is probably for the best.
I grew up in a close-knit family with my parents and one sister. We lived in Southern California with our nearest set of grandparents on the east coast; the farther set was in Europe. More years than not, our Thanksgiving table featured place settings for four, and even though I loved our intimate, yet abundant, gathering, I also set my heart on having a big family.
The configuration of our Thanksgiving table has varied widely over the years, because that’s how it goes with families. Somebody comes home for Thanksgiving, but somebody else doesn’t because there are exams and expenses and LAX. Some years, distant family members are in town, and most years include “orphans” whose biological family lives too far away to break bread with. Some years are elegant, displaying antique linens and heirloom silver, and some are casual, featuring jeans, paper plates, plastic forks. Some years we have had double days, feasting early at one house and later at another. I have served as host, guest and orphan, and there are aspects I love about each, but at the end of the day the togetherness is what I adore. And the gratitude. Even on our darkest days, we have something to be grateful for. Usually several somethings.
Eight years ago, Sam’s family and mine limped to an aunt’s house to be together in both our sadness and our celebration of Thanksgiving. With heavy hearts, Tim and the boys brought a plate from Thanksgiving dinner to Debbie in her hospital room.
This year, our family will gather, as we have done now for several years, at one grandparents’ house. And by “our family” I mean mine, Tim’s, Sam’s and Debbie’s. Everybody. Unbelievable. I never imagined that there would be so much joy in this next chapter of our lives. But here we are.
We will have all eight of the boys’ grandparents together at one proverbial table. Not only do they bring their signature dishes and quirky behaviors, but more significantly they bring all their best qualities – their faithfulness and humor, patience, perspective and insight. They bring their tenacity and strength. And their gentleness and understanding. They bring their love and acceptance in that arms-open-wide grandparental way. A veritable feast.
I have my big family: my doting husband Tim and our four sons, my parents plus three sets of in-laws, an abundance of aunts and uncles, plenty of sisters-and-brothers-in-law and a plethora of cousins, nieces, nephews and goddaughters. I love it even more than I thought. It’s chaotic and messy and inclusive. It’s crazy loud. There are way more loved ones in attendance than we have silverware or crystal. Needless to say, the logistics require more than simply adding a leaf to extend the table. It’s exhausting. I’m so grateful.
A family football game, friends and food. Full hearts. Full plates. Full house. Gratitude. Thanksgiving is my favorite.
Wishing you light and strength on your healing path. And a Happy Thanksgiving.