My aunt and uncle sent this article in an email to all our family members on Thanksgiving. I thought it was beautiful.
It got me thinking this weekend about what Thanksgiving is for me. This is the third year in a row (and ever) that I haven’t been with my parents for Thanksgiving. There are lots of reasons for this – all of them related to distance. If it were easier for me to get home, I wouldn’t think twice about it. But spending four flights, two days, and 5 or 6 hundred dollars to only have about 48 hours with my family was getting frustrating. Driving over two mountain passes in the middle of the night isn’t really an option, either. Not in the winter.
So I’ve learned to find other kinds of “family” – usually friends – in Portland to celebrate and feast with. This year, Galen invited me to spend the weekend with his extended family here in Portland. His parents and sister flew in and everyone gathered for dinner Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They are an incredibly welcoming bunch and I had a great time. His sister also has young kids who are tons of fun, so Galen and I spent a fair amount of our pre- and post- dinner time being silly with them.
And I realized that Thanksgiving is about feeling at home, even if you aren’t. It’s about that warm feeling you get when you go inside someone’s house, where the lights are on and the kitchen is full of commotion, where the people are excited to see you and hug you hello, where someone’s dad wants to talk about the day’s football games and someone’s mom wants to take your coat and put it in the hall closet, and you’re so grateful to be out of the cold and rain.
It’s about being surrounded by people who like you for who you are, even if they don’t know you very well. People who want you to have two desserts and an extra glass of wine. People who will ask what your family is doing today, wherever they may be, and then listen to the answer. People who look you in the eyes when they ask you how you’ve been and want to hear about your day, even if you didn’t get out of your pajamas until after 2:00. And although you may never be completely at ease, since you aren’t at your house, you feel welcomed, you feel the warmth, and you feel at home.
I am thankful for my many homes away from home.