Welcome to a beautiful dining room, where the fire crackles and the deep green chairs are extra inviting. This room, this house, is where I spent Friendsgiving, in the company of beloved friends and fur babies. Let’s cozy in and look back, shall we?
Reflecting on Friendsgiving
Thanksgiving felt different this year for so many reasons. The world changed drastically. Plans changed last minute, but all in all, this time filled me with a spirit of reflection and gratitude. The holiday felt akin to New Year’s, a mile marker of how much can change in a year.
Last Thanksgiving, there was a trip to Nebraska. This year, there was supposed to be a trip to Nebraska, two symbolic bookends. There was the ending of one relationship, a canceled ticket, and the start of something new, two canceled tickets. Last year, there were feelings of failure and mourning. This year, there were feelings of hope, of excitement, of pride in applying lessons learned the hard way.
From bookend to bookend, I grew. I stepped more wholely into myself, became more compassionate and tender with myself. I opened, and friendships blossomed. I learned just how life-giving and meaningful connection is, and I started to say “yes” to the moment more and more.
Amidst these changes, I found my way into a chosen family. These friends make me laugh so hard I fall to the floor gasping for air. Our time together is an equal mix of silly joy and meaningful exchange. I have opened my heart and soul in these friendships and received theirs as well.
So we gathered to share a Friendsgiving, a meal made with thought, love, and care: a salad harvested from the backyard, a turkey from a local farm, green bean casserole made from scratch (more on that to come!), cranberry sauce with berries I harvested myself, several sweet treats, and a beautiful bar that never leaves a glass empty. Prompted by Mama Star, we moved around the table, sharing our gratitude.
It seems like the sort of activity reserved for children or a Hallmark movie, but what emerged was a moment of vulnerability and connection, a moment I’m sure we’ll all cherish. Thanksgiving as a construct is rife with revisionist history and cruelty, but taking a day to revel in gratitude, to be open, and to share is something I hope to experience more and more.
Sharing Our Gratitude
Moving around the table, there were teary eyes and warm hearts, as we shared gratitude for…
A warm bed, cozy sheets, and a roof over her head.
A wife who believed in him and achievements beyond his wildest dreams, a grand adventure.
Gratitude for simply being there, at that table.
Gratitude for the opportunity to pack up and change scenes, to push himself beyond what he had known, and come back to a strong support system.
Gratitude for stepping more wholely into myself and finding this group, this table, that so joyfully embraces me just as I am. They make me feel loved and accepted. Gratitude for a house that has held so many joyous occasions.
Gratitude for choosing rest, for being welcomed, for libations that add a little extra merriment.
Gratitude for support during a tough year, for forgiveness and loyalty.
Gratitude for letting down a guard and accepting support.
Gratitude for dogs, so much gratitude for dogs.
Same Waters, Different Boats
While the holiday filled me with gratitude and joy, I am aware of how lucky I am. I recently heard empathy described as balancing your own gratitude and celebrating your own successes without turning a blind eye to the disparities. I am grateful I had the chance to share some of my bounties, to leave peanut butter and rolls with a homeless man, to take bags of food to a family in need. I’m grateful for the people in my life who live the example of selflessness, so I can continue to be a more generous person.
From My Heart To You
Maybe your holiday was stressful. Maybe you had to cancel plans. Maybe you felt lonely. I’ve been there, and my heart goes out to you. Families, relationships, and holidays are complex, especially now, but what I have learned is the power of choosing those who choose you too. I hope you find that type of family!