This year I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. There were 18 people around my table. Family from both sides, dear friends, and people we literally just met. No joke.
This has been quite a year for me, and it was significant and overwhelming to stop the whirlwind of life and focus on all that I am thankful for. A few weeks ago I just decided what I wanted to propose for Thanksgiving. I checked with the key matriarchs, and they were on board with Thanksgiving at our house. So we went with it.
I’ve never had a Thanksgiving that meant as much to me as this one. My perspective this year is so incredibly different than ever before. First of all, cancer. The way it has changed me and changed my family. I don’t fully, and I barely partially understand it yet. The way I feel being on “the other side” is still strange and unfamiliar. But all of my close relationships feel a little different. We show more grace and love each other with a new lens.
My mom is in the thick of her cancer journey. There are so many things I haven’t been able to do for her, but I wanted to give her this Thanksgiving with little effort on her part. That was something I knew I could do.
We set a big table and I delegated most of the tasks and Thanksgiving felt easy and right. Nathan had both of his grandmothers here, and we both had our parents with us. We had our very dearest friends that have become family with us this year for Thanksgiving also. With all that we’ve been through together, it felt so right for this season.
And then we had a precious girl celebrating Thanksgiving with all new people for the first time. A girl who has, at least for this season and space of time, become my fourth child in my world and in my heart. Though I have known her for less than two months, God prepared our hearts to parent her for this season and equipped us with the tools, provisions and other people to do this. It’s something miraculous and beyond my understanding, and a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Having her in the mix of Thanksgiving represented so much for all of us.
But wait, there’s more. Yet another place was set at the table just the day before Thanksgiving. A visitor came for the day on Wednesday. He was a nice guy and it turned out that he didn’t have family anywhere near to be with for Thanksgiving. So we invited this young man that we’d just met into our home to stay the night and share Thanksgiving with all of us.
Friends, life this year has changed me. I’m the gal who sets the table a week in advance and has the meal mapped out and is unhappy with people trying to rock the boat. I’m the one who doesn’t like “uncomfortable” or “being flexible” or changing the plans. I don’t love meeting new people and being spontaneous and all the problems that come with it.
But life, and this year, and oh so much love that’s been demonstrated to me. And somehow this year on Thanksgiving, I just wasn’t the same person. The “me” that I speak of wasn’t here anymore. She’s faded into the background. The things that matter and the things I feel I can do well have risen to the surface, and I’ve chosen to focus just on doing those things.
This year I went with the flow, I allowed plans to change, and I waited until the last minute to finish all the things so that I could enjoy camping with my family the days before Thanksgiving. I was able to do this because I have people. I don’t do things alone anymore. A beautiful team of people pulled together and just created Thanksgiving in my home with ease. I had an entire crew of maybe eight participants involved in cleaning, rearranging, cooking, and finishing building a table. I literally made one dessert and green beans to contribute to the meal I “hosted”, and that was all.
Loving people has never felt easier. This year Thanksgiving made sense, and it wasn’t hard, and it was so beautiful that I cried at least 8 times in the 24 hours that followed because of all the feelings. I am so thankful for every person around this table and for what I have learned through each relationship.