Thirty-Five Michigan Thanksgivings and One North Carolina Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving morning and I am grateful.  The mountains outside the kitchen window are a shade of dark blue and a train whistles in the background.  My husband is baking bread and the cats are waiting for him to "accidentally" drop some goodies on the floor.  I am alive and I am happy.

But, this Thanksgiving feels awkward and a little sad to me.  This is the first Thanksgiving I will spend apart from my family.  I know that I am writing from a place of privilege and luck.  My husband has had to spend many Thanksgivings away from his family and in the last four years he has happily traveled with me to Michigan to spend the holidays with my family, even though he misses his family in New Jersey and New York.  I know that he has sacrificed time with his family to be with me and for that I am grateful.  I am lucky. 

When I was a kid we used to spend Thanksgiving at my great-aunt's home.  We ate Thanksgiving dinner in her orange and pine trimmed basement as Bing Crosby and Gene Autry sang in the background.  My sister and I would run around the basement and hide under the table as the adults played cards and talked about the turkey and upcoming Christmas holiday.  One year, when I was around five, my great-aunt accidentally poured me some wine instead of the kid friendly cranberry juice "champagne".  When I started to act more goofy than normal, my parents became suspicious of what was in my green cup.  Perhaps that was the year that kicked my holiday spirit and love of Christmas into full gear.  It may have been my most jolly of Thanksgivings as a kid.

As my great-aunt got older and my Dad learned how to smoke a Thanksgiving turkey on the grill, my parents began hosting the holiday.  Holidays with my family are loud with laughter, arguing, chatting, and the undeniable sound of the camera clicking as my dad takes photographs.  This is what I'll miss: the noise, the hugs, the bad jokes, the faces of my loved ones gathered around one table as my nephews run around the room and giggle.  And, of course, I will miss the ceremonial lifting of the turkey off the grill to bring it indoors.  The small things are what I miss most.  The fact that I have all of this to miss only shows how lucky I am.  I am extra grateful this year.

This afternoon we are celebrating Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's home.  We are packing the fresh baked bread, the bottle of wine, and our grateful hearts into the car to celebrate with other friends who were unable to make it home for Thanksgiving.  This, our new form of created family, is another reason I am grateful.  Grateful for the many shapes and shades of warmth, laughter, and abundance in my world.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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