This is Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving!! I love that just before Christmas there’s a pause that reminds me give thanks for each of my blessings. I love that it’s a pause wrapped in tradition. Tradition that surrounds me with family, friends and food that make me feel cozy inside.

Ever since we got married, on Thanksgiving morning we’d get up, have a late breakfast and drive a couple hours to Raleigh to spend Thanksgiving with JJ’s brother, his family, and J.J’s parents. We’ve been doing this for years and we all love it!

Two years ago, our family tradition was interrupted when J.J. got C-diff (an awful bacterial infection) that put him in the hospital for 4 days, on Thanksgiving morning. His brother met me half way and our boys went to Raleigh without us.

Last year my mom was hospitalized the week before Thanksgiving for 8 days. We brought her home on Wednesday night before and collapsed. I don’t even remember what we ate. I think I bought a honey-baked ham. My brother made oyster stew. I was thankful to be home and to have my brother and his family here. But I have to admit, I missed our Thanksgiving tradition.

This year my sister-in-love had to go and win herself a free cruise this week, so they aren’t even home to invite us to come see them. She’s probably convinced we wouldn’t show up since we’ve had to back out 2 years in a row. So, they are going to FL for Thanksgiving where J.J.’s parents live. And we’ll be here all by our lonesome selves. (Violins please)

J.J. and I were feeling kind of lost and not knowing what to do. I think we both felt deep sadness that we’d be doing all the cooking :->. Where would out tradition be without all the people who made our Thanksgiving what it had been? We could go to Florida but we really didn’t want to do all that driving. So, we talked about it and prayed about it.

Eventually, we both realized it’s up to us to start a new tradition, right here where God has us, with our own little family. I’ve sensed God telling us we’re the big people now and we need to learn how to cook and create “cozy” ourselves.

It won’t be the same, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be just as warm and wonderful. It’s up to us to make it what we long for it to be.

On Sunday, my heart finally settled into a good place of moving forward. Then yesterday God gave me a sweet confirmation that is where He was hoping I would land. I read my friend Carol Davis’ blog post below and it was just what I needed!

Thursday is Thanksgiving. A time when we reflect and think of all we have been blessed with.

But, it’s not a celebratory time for everybody. For some of us, it will never be the same.

There will be an empty seat because death came for them too soon. An empty seat because one found another table at which to celebrate. A clean plate set but not used that represents the child that has decided family is no longer a priority. Suddenly, this year…we notice that things will never be the same.

I think back to the Thanksgiving days of my childhood. I would enter through the front door of my grandmother’s house while the wonderful aroma wafted from the kitchen. The house was full. The table was set. We could not begin until every one arrived. The smell of pecan pie and sweet potatoes tempted you to enter and get a taste of what awaited. But, you waited…knowing it would be worth it. Being the youngest grandchild, I got to fix my plate first and sit at the small table located closest to the food. This was Thanksgiving.

Year after year, the landscape of family changed. New faces were added. We mourned the loss of empty chairs and celebrated the additions of high chairs and card tables for extra seating. Every year different.

Then, I remember the first year that my grandmother was in a rest home. My heart ached that day when we gathered around the table to give thanks. No longer around her table, no longer with the big family, different. I knew it would never be the same.

But, the older I get, the more I realize, that even in the “never be the same” days, there are treasures to be mined out and enjoyed in the midst of different.

True. The faces have changed. But, let’s not miss the faces that are gathered.

True. Life has changed. But, let’s not look forward to the end of the day and miss the living of this day.

True. It will never be the same. However, truth of the matter is, it never has been. So, squeeze all of the life you can out of today knowing that God has created this day and has plenty for you to enjoy.

This is Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving sweet friends. I am so grateful for each of you!

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. This is the first Thanksgiving I've ever handled on my own. My husband has to work in the evening (he works nights, and doesn't get holidays off), so we're having a Thanksgiving lunch.
    A couple years ago, my father passed away, and the rest of my family "un-familied" me, so it'll just be me, my 12 yr old daughter & my almost-4 yr old son.
    I'm going to do my very best to create some traditions and keep things fun and focused on God, to avoid getting too depressed about not having a big, loud, holiday.
    Thank you for your words, and your example.

  2. Beautiful post and oh so true! wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving Renee to you and your beautiful family.

  3. Sometimes new traditions are discovered by accident and become the ones we cherish the most. Thanksgiving blessings to you as you discover something new.

    Sweet Blessings,
    Pam

  4. I've worked many Thanksgivings in my short working life (I am a nurse) but am thankful that the last few years I've been off for the entire holiday and weekend after due to my current job situation!
    We've had to make adjustments in how we celebrate also due to the fact that my mother-in-law passed away several years ago and my father in law is remarried to a lady who also has children (that is very touchy). But we've adjusted and still celebrate the day for what it is…to thank Him for all He has done!

  5. Thank you for sharing your heart…we, too, are in the midst of making our own family traditions…as big people 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving and many, many blessings as you celebrate!

  6. So so good Renee!! Thanks for sharing! Pray you have a wonderful day celebrating with your family! May God bless you with wonderful memories and new traditions as well! Thankful for you this Thanksgiving, Jill

  7. I love Thanksgiving as well, Renee. And I've had a hard time adjusting to changes in traditions as all the families in both side of our family continue to grow. But, all the time we get with those we love (and all the time we get with just my husband, my son, and myself) is a blessing!

    I read Carol Davis' post yesterday as well. It was definitely a great one. Thank you for sharing it, and sharing your thoughts!

  8. Hi Renee,
    Thank you so much for this post today.
    I am Canadian, so not celebrating Thanksgiving this week, (we have ours in Oct).
    I am facing a very different Christmas this year and have not been handling it very well.
    Reading your post and Carol Davis' post, made me realize that it isn't about where I am or who is with us to celebrate Christmas, its about where my heart is.
    True gratitude, for Jesus' birth and death on our behalf; and thanksgiving for our many blessings are where I need to place my focus. So today I am choosing to think on those things and not on the things (or people) I can't have.
    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  9. Hope you had a truly warm and wonderful Thanksgiving at home with your crew! 🙂 I have a feeling God honored your surrendered heart…your heart that was willing to look for the blessings right where you were.

  10. Oh, how I can relate!
    Our little family has lived away from Family for decades and each Thanksgiving celebration took on a different flavor, a different scenario.
    But GOD has always been the constant! HIS Goodness and Grace are the reasons for ALL our celebrations…amen?

  11. This is the first Thanksgiving that all of the children are gone. All four of them are in different states with their families. My husband and I are getting ready to celebrate two years of marriage and we are creating our own tradition. Yes, it was quiet, because he works night and that meant that he sleeps while I cook. But I was able to spend some time reflecting on the goodness of God, all that He has done for mine family and how He has been there through the good and bad time. There are empty chairs but a heart full of memories.

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