Our family just polished off a luscious, eventful, soul-satisfying Thanksgiving week. We filled not just one day but one glorious week with fun and love.
We shared meals and indulged in local outings. We played games and told stories. We swapped jokes, cooked, cleaned, cooked and cleaned again, and “helped” Dad with crossword puzzles. We played with all the many family dogs and teased Gen mercilessly for not wanting to play any dogs. “He’s breathing on me! He’s breathing on me!” (She’s smart, but also weird, so we don’t let this go.)
Ang caught lots of teasing for, well, one unforgettable recipe typo which will go down in family legend. (She’s weird, but also smart, so this mistake was delightful.)
We drew names for Christmas gifting, dove into an early round of the Saran Wrap game since we won’t all be together in December, big thanks to Ang for spontaneously gathering those supplies late the evening before our big feast. And we compared notes on how we will spend the coming winter months.
Gen, in town from Los Angeles for the first time since the winter holidays of 2019, ran six miles with me at the lake, and we were amazed by our ability to keep up a truly lively conversation while maintaining a pretty smooth pace.
Philip made a decadent chocolate-peanutbutter cheesecake from scratch, and his patience was tested by his older sisters’ chaotic, well, everything. Kenzie taught us a Tik-Tok dance, we might soon be famous. There was a chopsticks prank, and there were tiny chalkboard easels for displaying our thankfulness.
Hundreds of unforgettable moments filled the hours, and several long strands of warm, binding affection encircled the days. We all needed this Thanksgiving Week, probably more than we realized. If last year we held our breath and muddled through, clinging to the bones of tradition, then this year we enjoyed the greatest exhale and then laughed until we felt it in every cell. We luxuriated in the best Thanksgiving has to offer.
The glory of a well executed family holiday is not any one person’s doing, but rather the result of every member’s best effort. Cooking, arranging, engineering games, tending to traditions and details, spearheading city events, amassing extra furniture, telling the best stories, laughing uncontrollably, dancing, listening, leading, following. Being the best looking and also the firstborn (brushes off shoulder).
Every ingredient matters. We rely on each person bring his or her A Game, then we all enjoy the alchemy of our vivid personalities blending into something greater then just the sum of our parts. To me this illustrates part of the magic of family. God gave us this beautiful lifelong gift. By design, it seems, we live more fully as a group when each person steps fully into his or her gifts.
That said, at the end of the day, we owe an extra debt to Mom and Dad. Their forty-eight years of pressing traditions into their kids’ hearts has yielded an insatiable appetite for more of everything. Why else would we be drawn so irresistibly to home base, to the same foods, the same seasonal activities, the same faces? I love it all. I am so thankful for this nourishing rhythm. So thankful for my small, young family of origin that has grown and matured into my very favorite group of adults and new children.
Of course we missed Joe (my middle brother) and Halee and their two handsome boys, who are living their U.S. Navy chapter in Spain, but they are happy and thriving. We enjoyed some Facetime screams and giggles with them as we feasted. They happened to be in Barcelona that day!
And we missed Dante (our first nephew) and his bride Deaven, who travelled to spend thanksgiving with her family in California. We had some Facetime laughs with Dante, too, and made sure he knew he was missing the most fun here with us.
Always, for so many holiday seasons over the years, we missed Jocelyn. We are hurting for her and for Jessica, as grief is complex and has a way of intensifying around holidays. Yet even in this, I can give thanks, because the dense, soft warmth of family absorbs so much pain. The safe, circular walls of family keep the worst of the world’s darkness at bay. We can help the girls when they let us, and we always pray and stay ready when they retreat tp privacy.
Can you even imagine the party we are going to have when every single family member is here with us?
This weekend, Gen is back in Los Angeles. Each of our local households has retreated for a bit of rest and maybe holiday cleanup, Christmas gift shopping, and decorating. We’re enjoying a few quiet autumn days before December gains its own glittering momentum.
When I say my heart is full, I mean I feel both short of breath from it all and deeply slowed and rested. Like the simplest things are all we need.
And how wonderful that such a magical week can land me right back on the threshold of my amazing normal life.
Thank you for stopping here. And thank you to everyone who left such loving notes on recent posts. I hope your Thanksgiving was everything you needed it to be, and if not, I hope you know how to step into the next chapter wisely and lovingly. As we begin to observe some Advent weeks, please consider checking in here for some inspiration. I have some good things brewing!
“Thanksgiving was never meant
to be shut up in a single day.”
~Robert Caspar Lintner