This week, I was trying to write about gratitude and Thanksgiving, and it made me think about the past years and my favorite Thanksgiving memories. Here are some highlights (in no particular order):
There was the year the turkey was smoked in a special contraption. (Nobody got burned and nothing exploded, but the flavor was just so-so.)
There was the year when we had so many guests in our little house that we had to ask people to bring chairs—and then one relative showed up at the last minute with two unannounced extra guests and a pot of frozen peas that she thought she could cook in my kitchen (where you might have guessed, every stove burner was already occupied by something I was making)
The year I found out that cranberry sauce leaves an incredibly sticky mess on your stove when you let it boil over. (A fact I’ve confirmed nearly every year, including 2020)
There was the year I left the bag of giblets in the turkey when I roasted it. (My first turkey, and thankfully, it was fine!)
There was the year when the kids wanted nothing to do with the food, with the exception of Hawaiian rolls. (They’d still be happy with a meal consisting of nothing but those rolls, I think!)
There was the year with the vomit incident. (You don’t want to know)
There was the year where everyone got sick and I pulled together a side-dish only Thanksgiving for the four of us. (Don’t be upset, but I don’t really care for turkey)
The year I went too fancy on the appetizers I was asked to bring. (Favorite comment about my prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe: “Why did you wrap bacon around this melon?”)
The theme running through all those years is this: Every single one of these was an imperfect Thanksgiving. But also, and maybe even more so, every single one of these was a good Thanksgiving. Good because we showed gratitude. Because we made memories. Because we moved past any low-level disaster and enjoyed a holiday.
This year will be different for most of us, but I want to remind us all that different does not mean bad or lost or irredeemable. Next year, and the years after, when we look back, Thanksgiving 2020 will be special in its own right. The year we all had small celebrations. The year everyone ate outside. The year I didn’t roast a turkey and had zero regrets about it. The year we found gratitude in the midst of challenging circumstances. Another year when we know that God is still God, and God is still good.