Aside from my children, my nearest relative lives almost eight hundred miles away. My wife’s family lives four thousand miles away. So, getting together for Thanksgiving (especially when you’re six months pregnant) is not always easy.
This year, my ex-wife has my two sons for the holiday (we swap every other year), so we decided this year to do a Friendsgiving with a few other families this past Saturday. It turned out to be a lot more fun and a lot more of a learning experience than I ever expected it to be.
We’ve been friends with these four families for a few years now (sadly one of them couldn’t join us due to illness), so it seemed like a great fit to do the Friendsgiving together. We arranged an essential “what to bring” list and told people to feel free to bring anything beyond it and my goodness – The FEAST! We ended up with two turkeys, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, a delicious smorgasbord of cheeses and meats, shrimp cocktail, homemade cranberry sauce, wines, Brussels sprouts, cakes, and pies and I’m sure I’m leaving something out. It was an amazing array of food!
We got to enjoy the beautiful home of the hosting couple who are also expecting along with us and traded many pregnancy discussions. Most importantly, everyone (adults and teenagers alike) got to mingle and spend quality time talking, hanging out, exchanging stories, and just catching up on life.
At one point, the adults were all in the dining room talking and the kids were in the living room. One of our friends brought up the idea that they used to say what they were most thankful for on Thanksgiving. So, we each went around the table and mentioned what we were most thankful for. I then called in the kids, I wanted to hear from their perspective what they were thankful for. What I heard surprised me.
One of them mentioned that they were thankful for the opportunities in this country that they had, that their parents having come from another country might not have had. Another child said they were thankful for the stability in their home now after a divorce in earlier years. That their home(s) lives were calmer and more normal. Finally, another child said they were thankful that they have never had to worry if there was food available for them or needing to want for anything. That their parents could provide for them.
We have always thought of Thanksgiving as a “family” experience. But, for the first time in my life, I really felt like this was a Thanksgiving that embodied what Thanksgiving is really about. Mixing of cultures, the bringing together of families, the realization of what we really are thankful for. Yes, we should be thankful every day. There is no harm though in making sure that we really do recognize the importance of being thankful and I feel like a Friendsgiving really does do this.