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Thanksgiving to me always meant the start of the holiday season, and while I was never a Thanksgiving fanatic as a kid, I loved the feeling that came with it. Growing up with a single mom, Thanksgiving was always this intimate dinner spent with just my mom, brother and me. I’m not sure we ever had a real Thanksgiving dinner even, just something that was thrown together by my mom after she got home from work. I’m pretty sure we had plant-based chicken nuggets and turkey one year when my brother was vegetarian. But the dinner wasn’t what mattered, it was always spending time with my small family that I loved the most. The times my brother and I would make each other laugh at the dinner table being completely stupid and my mom would just giggle, not knowing what we were even talking about. Even on the days we fought, we were family. 

Thanksgiving meant the start of the Christmas season, and I loved feeling that holiday spirit with my family. Getting out the Christmas decorations, putting the ornaments on the tree  — especially the ones that became inside jokes between me and my brother over the years — and watching movies together meant the world to me. The holiday season was always my favorite time of the year because I got to do what families all over the world do: spend time together making memories. 

But now everyone is getting older, and, boy, have things changed. I haven’t spent Thanksgiving with my brother in four years, maybe five even, since he moved out. I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving since my freshman year. Going home for Thanksgiving means spending it with my mom, stepdad and his close family, and while I love them all, it can’t compare to it just being mom, brother and me. I get so jealous when I see people on social media spending the holidays with their families, however discombobulated or crazy, because I crave that so badly. What I would give to have another holiday season with them. 

I’ve been feeling this way for years now, but this year I choose to be thankful for what I have. I’m thankful for my brother, who I know is doing great things in North Carolina. I’m thankful to know him for who he truly is and that our relationship continues to grow stronger each day. Of course, I’m thankful for my mom who raised two kids by herself and overcame the odds, and of course, I’m thankful for the family my stepdad has given me. I’m thankful for how they’ve provided for me throughout my college career and how my stepdad opened his home to us. I’m thankful to have a boyfriend who loves me and for his family who makes me feel as if I’m one of them. I’m thankful to have a home. I can miss the past as much as I want to, but there’s nothing I can do now but move forward and learn to love the life that I have. Learn to love my mom and brother as separate beings, learn to love my dad even though he’s no longer here, and learn to look forward to the life I’ll give my kids one day. One day, I’ll have my own little family, and we’ll spend every holiday season together. 

Ally Ford

Virginia Tech '22

About me: a senior at Virginia Tech pursuing a dual degree in multimedia journalism and Spanish with a minor in professional and technical writing who enjoys driving with no destination, watching sunsets on the beach, mint chocolate chip ice cream and writing for Her Campus.
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