Despite living in one of the 195 countries that DOESN’T celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, today has been circled and exclamation-pointed on my calendar for weeks. Happy Thanksgiving! My American-in-Norway friend Heidi described Thanksgiving as a ”pure holiday” — family time with no gifts and fewer distractions (with the exception of the football game). There is no other time of year when it is practically MANDATORY to recognize and celebrate all that’s going right in our lives, a cultural mandate that transcends the all the different cultures, traditions, religions, social classes our nation is known to contain. Your brain doesn’t need to do a quick scan of appropriate holiday greetings (Merry Christmas?? Happy Hanukkah?? Happy Holidays??) when you greet someone in the street. For one day, we are all just Americans eating turkey. No one in the world begrudges us this day.
I feel a bit the same way at Easter, actually. That’s another one of these days that no matter where you spend it, in church or in the mountains, the implications are so deeply-seated that straight-up joy and humble gratitude just bathe all aspects of your being in peace and happiness.
But back to Thanksgiving. For myself, personally, as a currently unemployed (outside the home) wife and mom, Thanksgiving combines the two things that take up approximately 97% of my time: family and food. CELEBRATES them, in fact. Is it coming across how happy this makes me? Everyone I know is talking excitedly about what they’re preparing and who they’re seeing. So, if I wanted to, I could talk about how totally stoked I am about the new pie recipe I’m trying out to just about anyone and it wouldn’t be weird. (And bless you all who are saying that it wouldn’t be weird at anytime of year to be excited about pie, but a) some of you know how excited I can get about these things and it definitely can be somewhat embarassing and b) even though I consider myself well-adjusted, this 30-year-old-stay-at-home-mom-of-two role came on kind of quick, so it wasn’t THAT long ago that cheap microbrew beer was the reason I’d be rendered speechless.)
SO: Here’s my list, and it could get sappy, so just bear with me.
1) These guys. And everything that surrounds them and their existence. I am thankful that I have a womb that can bear children, that my babies are healthy, that the Lord has kept/is keeping an eye on us through it all, that they are baptized, and that I have a partner in this child-rearing endeavour that loves them as much as I do (and whom, incidentally, I am also ridculously thankful for). That I have the privilege of being at home with them and watching them grow. What an overwhelming blessing to experience, more than once, the sweet peace of a baby sleeping on your chest. Sigh.
2) You guys. 🙂 The friends and family ‘at home and away’ that we love and that love us, that we pray for and that pray for us. We miss you who are not here, and we rejoice in you who are. I don’t even know how our hearts can be big enough to fit everyone that we have come to know and cherish over the years, but they are.
3) Wool. Varmepumper. Down. A husband who is a human heater. That there are colder places on earth and that we do not live there.
4) That we have abundant food, even if it means, ONCE AGAIN, getting used to a new set of ‘available resources.’ Treasure your squash and zuchini, people. That’s all I’m saying.
5) That my children have grandparents and great-grandparents that love them beyond belief, and that my children are able to grow up knowing them all despite the distance. Thank you, Lord, for Skype. Amen.
6) That even though I don’t understand what’s going on 78% of the service, the cross at the front of the church here is the same as the one back home.
That list could go on and on and on, but we’ll just let it be for now. I mean, I have sweet potatoes to peel in between diaper changes over here (YES, there is a ridiculous amount of handwashing going on. Relax.)
p.s. I’d like to thank former classmate Rachel Hartman for her list; my expanded version shares a number of her points, despite our very different locations. 🙂