Our younger son’s sweet friend is joining us for the holidays. She’s from Thailand and has never been to an American Thanksgiving (or Christmas), so I’ve been thinking about the essentials in the celebrations.
For Thanksgiving our sons would say turkey I think – their dad pie. But maybe under those quick responses lies the same thing that I cherish – family and friends around a table laden with lovingly prepared food. Because it gives me energy for the preparations in their honor, I like to think of this holiday as a gift I give to guests. But I get too much for that thought to work.
The first year we had Thanksgiving here, I was a little disappointed. The food was great (thanks to all the participants’ contributions), but the table was too long for meaningful conversation. The meal ended, and somehow the holiday seemed lacking.
The next year, inspired by a young friend with a “bi-coastal” (as she says) extended family who use the Thanksgiving gathering to tell of the year’s significant events (this year she gets to announce a baby-to-be!), I proposed to my family that we go around the table and say what we are thankful for (not original but new to us).
The idea got shot down, but I tried again the next year, and my good-natured husband agreed to give it a try. Picking the kids up at the ferry is one of my favorite things about the holidays – most of the work is done, and I’m so glad to see them. On the drive we get to hear their stories, and I re-floated the “goofy idea.”
At dinner we drew numbers, and the young father arranged for his very young daughter to go first. He asked her if she was thankful for pink (which she adores), and she said, “Yes!” with much enthusiasm. Ice broken then, I was astounded at the rest of the “thankfuls.”
My old friend’s son unexpectedly said “women,” and then delivered an amazing sentence or two about the women in his life – including his mother and his (bi-coastal) sister. People spoke of concepts like opportunity and time. The young couples spoke of gratitude for each other. Everyone thanked the cooks.
Our younger son admitted he’d hoped the idea would die, and then when he drew a high number, hoped the whole thing would dissolve before reaching him. But said his feelings changed as he listened to the others, and he spoke of his gratitude for this beautiful place and for being here with his family.
It’s a solid tradition now, a highlight. I look forward to including our visitor from Thailand – she has a way of putting her hands together and bowing her head slightly when she accepts a sandwich by the side of a trail. She’ll be beautiful with the thankfuls.