We sat around the two Thanksgiving tables; we no longer fit around one. It’s my (tiny) immediate family plus my husband’s immediate (plus some) family, who, perhaps needless to say, have all become my immediate family as well.
I’m never sure who will start the process each year, although I know it won’t be me. I started the tradition the first year – probably the first few years – and swore years ago I’d let it go. It wasn’t mine to force on everyone; especially since there used to be groans each time I suggested it. Just because I thought it was a cool – and important – idea didn’t mean that it was, or that my family had to comply.
We go around the table and each announce what we’re thankful for that year. When I started it, it seemed like the “right” tradition to add to the family Thanksgiving and a few years after that it seemed like the “right” thing to do was to not insist we go through it each year. But my whole body smiles each year when someone says, “okay, I’ll start this year off.”
There have been years when it’s been difficult to list what we’re thankful for. Years of family struggles and suffering, or suffering around us. But it now seems to be part of our yearly tradition. Some of us share seriously; some of us only joke; many of us do both. Love and laughter – and commentary – erupt and envelop us.
I have so much to be thankful for and I love to remember that. My amazing husband, my wonderful children, my immediate family, my extended family that has become my immediate family, my friends, my health, my work – my list feels endless at times.
Each Thanksgiving I watch and listen as everyone around the table takes their turn in our tradition, and I’m full-up with love and appreciation for the family that’s become my family, at the tradition that seemed so important to me many years ago that has now become a tradition, and at the fullness of love and joy and connection that are in and around me, that are possible.
There have been times in my life when I haven’t thought this much love and connection were possible. There have been moments – long and short – when I’ve felt helpless and alone. The truth is that I’m not. That we’re not. That we’re all in this together and that there is tons of love and connection to go around. And the truth is that I’m very lucky to have found it and built my life around it.
I have so much to be thankful for.
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