Once your children start leaving for college, the significance of holidays is magnified: they're some of the few times you can count on having everyone around your table. For me, now with two in college, I'm counting down the days for their Thanksgiving break with the same rabid anticipation I had when I was eight marking the days for Christmas.
That was on my mind this morning while sipping my first cup of coffee. Mentally thumbing through ideas to make our time together special, it occurred to me--
I couldn't remember a single Thanksgiving meal with my parents!
That's not so surprising having lost my mom to cancer when I was nine, but not to remember anything beyond general gatherings horrified me. My mind drifted to a story Don Miller shared in a A Million Miles in a Thousand Years when he and a group of friends met Bob Goff, author of Love Does (but then unpublished). On a kayaking trip, Don's group happened upon Bob's home on the water. Crazy, but Bob's family invited this group of strangers in for food; they spent a wonderful day together, and when it was time for Don and his crew to leave, when they were in their boats out in the water, all Bob's family jumped off the dock FULLY CLOTHED as they hollered their good-byes. They didn't just stand there and wave LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD would have done, they constructed a fantastical memory!
Stephen was at the table eating breakfast when I shared my realization out loud. "Mom, you know I don't like it when you talk like that..." which is true, I'm aware. This is my cheerful child and if he suspects I'm sad, he doesn't quite know what to do with it. Typically he'll try to halt the conversation.
But since he's the only kid left at home, and because I've repeatedly explained to him I'm not actually sad so much as processing out loud, he quickly regrouped and continued, "...but if you need to talk about it keep going."
I assured him I was fine, but with my morning realization came a heap of resolve: this Thanksgiving was going to be memorable. In addition to our children being home, we're hosting my husband's parents, his brother and their young children...grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings and us.
"I can't do anything about our past but what can we do to make THIS year's Thanksgiving unforgettable?" I punched the words into the space in between us, begging his ideas.
Without missing a beat and in all seriousness he was ready with an answer--
"Well, we can eat Thanksgiving dinner naked...."
Maybe general memories of life around our table aren't so bad after all.