It seems almost strange to not post something the evening of Thanksgiving, so here I sit, my head swirling and more than a bit tired, writing.
I know there are a lot of families do the whole thing where they go around the table, inflicting on their small children (and the rest of the family) the requirement that they extol what they’re thankful for. In reality, you usually hear “for good, and pie and my brother and sisters and . . . ” you get the point. I know this because my mother-in-law used to do this to us every year and Abbi, Hannah, and even my wife, her daughter, used to sit with that giggling nervous laugh unsure what to say. It was the same every year.
Don’t get me wrong, for most people this is perfectly normal, it’s a great thing, some even have amazing, philosophical, wondrous things to describe. I’ve spoken with some people who talk about their lives and what they’ve lost and how they’re so happy and it’s like Shakespeare and Mark Twain got together and wrote an American oratory.
I’m not that guy.
So instead of inflicting that on my kids we just decided to have dinner.
This was the first year where, after losing my wife/their mother and going from a 6-person household (two girls, twin boys) to a 5-person household…my oldest was in college all Fall. We were suddenly 4 people. To have Abbi, my oldest daughter, back in the home was just plain happy.
“I thought it would be strange coming home after all these months like it would be uncomfortable,” she said this morning. “It’s not, it’s just . . . ”
“Home,” I finished. That’s right, I made the cheesy cliche’d comment. I won’t apologize.
You have to understand . . . that’s become so much more true for all of us. It sounds like a Hallmark card or the not-so-subtle lesson from a Lifetime movie, but the reality is wherever we are it’s home. I woke up really early after a full night last night. I had already cooked 3 pies . . . I made a family recipe that’s like Chex mix, too. In the morning I made my mother’s bread dressing and seasoned and put the turkey in the roaster. By the time Abbi and Hannah, my two girls, had awakened the house smelled like Thanksgiving.
That, you see, was my goal.
When I grew up, whether we ate at my home or my Grandma Lanone’s, the house smelled like Thanksgiving. There was a mixture of garlic, rosemary, turkey, cinnamon, cloves, pecans, potatoes, sweet potatoes . . . just cooking. It wasn’t the labor it was the fact that it didn’t feel like labor. I’m sitting here, tonight, exhausted from cooking literally all day . . . and I don’t care. Really don’t.
You see, we’re home. Yes, we’re still, 3 Thanksgivings later, a member short of our 6, but that didn’t factor in. Sure, Andrea, their Mom, came up during the day. But the reality was this isn’t a day where the cooking was what is missing. Andrea was the decorator, the staging person, the social butterfly. Family wasn’t near – not extended family – so that wasn’t going to be necessary.
No, seeing Abbi so happy to be home, her brother Sam attached to her side all night while we watched the awful movie “The Wolverine” and her other brother, Noah, walking up and hugging her all night made me smile. Hannah so excited she was talking so fast she was near unintelligible was enough to know how happy she was. I was just happy to have them all under the same roof again. Doesn’t matter where it is.
To give you an idea of my family – my own, me, four kids – when you walk into our home the thing that greets you first is our wall of crazy animation. There’s a Charles Schulz etching that has Schroeder playing the piano while Snoopy listens – animation and music, obviously; there’s a print by an artist recommended by one of my dearest of friends by “The Black Eyed Guy” of a book called the Owl Whooo Knew; then there’s an original animation cell – one of the actual ones used to make 1/24th of a second of a cartoon on the wall.
That mishmash of stuff is our family. Multiple interests, multiple thoughts, craziness running around in an organized chaos.
But at the end of the day, all of them are under one roof, together. That makes it home. That’s really what we should be Thankful for.
And I truly am.