What I’m Thankful For

This year, it’s family. But not quite my own.

Family bombshells were oh-so-coincidentally dropped during the past two Thanksgivings. At the close of each holiday — in 2005 and 2006 — my family learned of secrets that were challenging to comprehend. So you can imagine my trepidation yesterday morning as I pulled a pumpkin cinnamon bundt cake from the oven, slipped on my winter coat and drove more than 100 miles to spend Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family in Aurora, Nebraska. I wasn’t expected anything “bad” to happen, but I was cautious nonetheless.

Warming myself with the late-morning sun while driving along I-80, I thought of how my family was so scattered on this day where family and food takes center stage. My immediate family occupies three states, and the distance, at times, can be unbearable.

As I arrived in Aurora I was welcomed with open arms by Matt’s family. The meal was nothing short of traditional and wonderful and delicious. We joked and laughed. They told stories. And I even saw some of Matt’s priceless childhood photographs, thanks to his mom, aunt and cousin. (Bless them.)

I’d only met Matt’s extended family once during the summer, so the first part of the day was a slight reintroduction. But by dinner, I’d truly felt at home.

We spent the afternoon watching TV, dozing and paging through newspaper ads for Black Friday sales. The boys played football in the late-day sun while the rest of us sat around the TV and chatted.

Driving home last night I was struck at how thankful I was (and remain this morning) for Matt’s family and families like his. I was reminded that such holiday gatherings do exist without drama and uncomfortable discoveries. That a simple meal can be just that. And that simple, in so many cases, is often best.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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