Growing up, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. The joy started in the morning as my mom would rise early and I would be woken up by the obnoxiously loud whole wheat grinding in the wheat grinder (Mom, is that a thing?) as she set out to make home made cinnamon rolls. I would trounce downstairs, make frosting for the treats, and settle in to watch those glorious balloons float by on “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” I got to spend time with my cousins who are more like the sisters I never had. We ate huge meals, well huge for an 8 year old, and had pretty place settings, and created one of a kind, original holiday skits to perform for our parents. I wore velvet vests, and pants with tassels or leggings with stirups, and sometimes even a matching outfit with my mom. You know, think child of the 90’s. We would go around the table and be forced to say what we were grateful for that year before we could dig in. As an 8 year old, perhaps this was frustrating. You know, my Pillsbury Crescent Rolls were getting cold.
Now, as an adult, I love those beautiful traditions, and those memories, and look forward to incorporating many components of my childhood Thanksgiving into whatever traditions we create as a new little family. I think it is funny how in America we lovingly call a day of intended gratitude “Turkey Day”. I sent Facebook shout outs to those I couldn’t be with this year and lovingly reminded my family that if I was with them, I would be yelling jokes like these at the table (thank you BuzzFeed).
I’ve spent a few Thanksgiving holidays away from home now, but this one, to me felt a bit more official. My parents went to Texas to see family and my husband had to work, so we were able to spend the day, and the extended weekend with my wonderful in-laws. My brother stayed at home and cooked for friends. My cousins’ family did their own thing because all of them were flying in from various parts of the country. I didn’t watch the parade and I did not make cinnamon rolls. Let’s say it was because I simply do not have a whole wheat grinder.
I’ve been thinking of this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson lately and the emotional truths that are carried here. “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” This year, I missed out on traditions that shaped me, and snuggle time with my mom, and being exposed to joy that only five year old cousins can exude. However, I gained valuable time with a new extended family. I experienced a table of lovely place settings, conversation over dinner, traditional foods that were not the same to my original family. There is beauty in creating a new family and the blending of people, tradition, and heartfelt memories. I have to take a moment, too, to give space for the recognition of loss that comes with growing up and moving into new territory of officially blended holiday moments. This blending, it’s not entirely new – Dylan and I have been together for 7 years. However, the husband and wife title makes it all feel a little more official.
When I was in high school and dreaming of that “ideal man” I always said I wanted to marry into a large family. God answered that prayer and I now have almost 15 new aunts and uncles and about 25 new cousins to boot. We got to spend all of Saturday afternoon with a majority of them, and as I was standing in the kitchen of a new aunt’s house, surrounded by people who have lovingly accepted me, I got a little bit choked up. How did I get so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful legacy? One of Dylan’s cousins recently got engaged, and upon meeting her fiancé I said to him “Welcome to the Family.” I looked at Dylan as soon as the words were out of my mouth, a little afraid at my forwardness. Do I have the street cred to extend such a offer? Dylan’s uncle saw the exchange and he said to me, “Well you are officially part of us now. ” Me, a newlywed, and three month old part of the family, got to extend this offer of welcome and mean it. These people are great.
This year I missed the Thanksgiving traditions that shaped my upbringing and had an ache in my heart for those not present. I look around too, and recognize all that I have gained in extended family, in relationship, in the blending of family. I know not all can say how much they enjoy time with their in-laws or that they wish they could spend each holiday with their own parents and siblings. There is beauty in loss and in gain, and the balance of finding yourself right where you are meant to be. I missed going around the table and sharing what were were thankful for, so my list of this years gratitude is below. What are your Thanksgiving traditions? What are you thankful for this year? Do you think Emerson is right?
Thanksgiving 2014 – Gratitude List
1) I have a husband now. I’m thankful for him, and I’m thankful for family
2) I live in Colorado – perhaps the best place on Earth – I love the mountains and the sun and the blue sky
3) We made it through wedding planning and had the best day of the year in a white dress surrounded by people I love.
4) I’ve been able to maintain friendship with some of my favorite people from high school and college
5) I’m thankful for this blogging journey and what it has done to heal my heart
6) Happy hours with my mom – we perhaps go much too often for wine and cheese after work
7) My grandma lives close and I get to spend time with her
8) Coffee – always coffee – and my new, fancy coffee maker
9) We found a new house to live in and are moving – with a lawn and a lake and a 1960’s style kitchen
10) The journey as it continues to unfold. May I be unafraid to lose something in order to gain something else
PS. I started an Instagram for the blog. Follow along @52BeautifulThings