Posted on 2023-11-23

Read Time: 3 minutes | 566 words

A hand holding a heart with gratitude!

Thanksgiving 2023

I have always had a mixed set of feelings around Thanksgiving. Growing up with a general lack of stability meant that this holiday was always a bit fraught. On the good years, it was a small family affair (just my mom, my sister, and me). I can count those years on one hand, but they did happen. We’d have mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts1, turkey or maybe a ham, biscuits, squash, homemade stuffing, and pumpkin or apple pie with whipped cream and ice cream.

What I loved about those moments was the simplicity of the day. We ate, we relaxed, and for one brief moment, we would pretend that all the troubles had gone away. It was a fantasy, of course, but it was a damned delightful one.

Most Thanksgivings were not like that. Some Thanksgivings found us sitting in strange kitchens with stranger people being fed as an act of charity and kindness. Others, when my mother was not as well, found my sister and I struggling to just get through the day without an incident or meltdown. In these moments, Thanksgiving was not a holiday, it was a minefield.

When I left home and started on my own. I left Thanksgiving and its lovely imbalances behind. It wasn’t a loss. In fact, it wasn’t really until I got married that I celebrated Thanksgiving, again. In my first marriage, I found myself back in the minefield–a different one, with different people, but equally stressful and distasteful.

It wasn’t until things fell apart that I found Thanksgiving, again. That may sound odd, but it’s also true. I found Thanksgiving in friendship and camaraderie and in the celebration with those who I was thankful to be around. I found it in people who celebrated my authentic self and who welcomed me. I still do. Is the crowd the same? No. People change and some friendships pass away. I have long since made my peace with that2. Rather I remember and give thanks for those good moments and move ever onward.

Today, our Thanksgiving was small: just Courtney and I. It was also amazing. We ordered Lawry’s Pasties last week and cooked them instead of turkey. We kept the sides small: stuffing, brussel sprouts, and pumpkin pie (of course). The rest of the day we read, wrote, and spent the day just enjoying the company3. It was glorious in its simplicity.

I am so grateful for the people in my life, and at the end of the day, that is what matters. There is a corollary to that gratitude. I am also grateful to be in a place in my life where I get to decide who is in my life and who is not. That is a gift and one I value more than I can say. I am grateful to have a partner who is on this amazing adventure of life with me and grateful for those who came and passed on through. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned and the many more that lie ahead.

May you all find your peace and joy and the people to share it with.

With Gratitude.

  1. Yes! Brussel sprouts. They are delicious, you Philistines!! ↩︎

  2. I believe this to be one of the may benefits of getting older. Accepting that people change and grow apart is a core part of growing up. ↩︎

  3. We face the clean-up tasks tomorrow! ↩︎

Tags: #holiday  #thanksgiving  #gratitude 

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