I grew up in a small household: just my mother and I. We had extended family, but they all lived across the country and we tended to stay local for holidays.
Growing up, I always felt I was missing out on the traditional family holiday: a massive table set for 12, brimming with my favorite holiday dishes and surrounded by nosy aunts and uncles, energetic young cousins and grandparents who fell asleep by 6 pm.
For a while, these visions danced in my head every time the holiday season loomed near. Often, they were accompanied with feelings of sadness of missing out and jealously of those I knew would be spending the holidays with their own big families. How could my simple entourage of two compete with the glorious fam-fests I knew to be the reality of others?
Don’t get me wrong – I love my mom and I was never without holiday magic. I enjoyed spending time with our handpicked family of friends. I knew that my reality didn’t come close to comparing with my dreams.
This year, however, was different.
I was in the kitchen one early November Saturday, washing some dishes in the sink, when one of my roommates approached me. “Hey, do you and your mom have any Thanksgiving day plans?”
“Well, not that I know of yet,” I replied. “It’s just the two of us so we get to make our own plans, but I haven’t heard anything yet. What’s up?”
“I was just thinking that I wanted to invite my mom and little sister to come up to have Thanksgiving dinner here at the house. If you guys don’t have plans yet, it could be so much fun for you guys to join! We can cook here and watch holiday movies after dinner,” she replied.
I was amazed. For the first time, I was meeting someone else whose family would be making it up as they went this year too.
What a blast it turned out to be! We sang along to the Dixie Chicks as we bustled around the kitchen. We shared a delicious meal and stories from days past. We laughed, we toasted and most importantly: we shared what we were thankful for. Almost every single one of us offered a thanks that reflected the eclectic gathering at the table who had turned from near-strangers to substitute family in the course of one meal.
This Thanksgiving I was finally able to see the opportunity that lay with having the situation I do – I am able to create experiences and bonds with others that take friendships to deep relationships. Not to mention – my mom and I were able to spend some quality time doing what we love best that morning: sleeping in and grabbing a coffee and donuts to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Though it may not have been the Thanksgiving of my dreams, I could not have been more thankful.