It doesn’t feel much like what we think of as Thanksgiving around here today. It’s 10:00 and The Boy and The Husband are still asleep. Oldest Sister is missing from our holiday for the first time ever (though I promise I’m happy for her that she’s able to be with her boyfriend and I’m not TOO much of a mess without her). It’s not bad, really. Just different – a little flat.
What it is, though, and what I’m very thankful for, is quiet. Just us, at home. This evening we’ll gather with extended family for laid-back leftovers and games – just the right amount of togetherness for me.
Years ago, back when our babies were young enough that I didn’t even have to imagine the day when they’d be leaving the nest, we used to travel for Thanksgiving for a gathering that included extended family, in-laws that didn’t even belong to The Husband or me, and friends of the hosts, who happened to be native to Tanzania. Lots of kids playing, lots of chaos…on the whole, a lovely time. Exhausting, but good, except for the occasional unpleasant behavior on the part of a few adults.
One of those years, I came up with a small project. Under each dinner plate was a printed question, which the recipient read and considered during the meal. After the dishes were cleared away, we all shared the answers to our questions.
“If you could invite any historical figure to join us today, who would it be and why?”
“What would be your dream vacation?”
“If you could be a character in any book, who would you be and why?”
“What was your favorite toy as a child and how did you play with it?”
This last one led to an answer that made us all stop and reflect on how very fortunate and insulated we were. Answered by the father of the family from Tanzania, this is what he had to say: “My brothers and sisters and I never had any toys. We made things to play with out of items we found in the village, but never any real toys.”
His answer put a new perspective on the holiday, on our priorities, on the way we looked at our lives.
A Thanksgiving memory never to be forgotten.