My family’s new Thanksgiving tradition

Yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner was amazing! It wasn’t the dinner and the deserts that made it special. It was the genuine warmth and love shared among 30+ family and friends in our home which made it exceptional.

Dinner included: Oven baked turkey, deep-fried turkey, stuffing, ham, chicken, salmon, seafood pasta salad, spinach salad, plain baked mac & cheese, baked lobster mac & cheese, yams, baked beans, collard greens, kale, cabbage, carrots, green beans, cabbage, corn muffins, and biscuits.

Desserts included: red velvet cake, coconut cake, chocolate cake, pumpkin bread, sweet potato pies, several apple pies, pumpkin pies, lemon meringue pie, coconut macaroons, and a few other items that I can’t remember.

Outrageous right? This is typical for my family and my memories go as far back as early childhood.

Last week, while preparing for festivities of Thanksgiving, I began thinking about how blessed we are (my family). We’ve never experienced wondering if Thanksgiving dinner would take place. With 12 aunts & uncles, and a surplus of cousins, who I’m still getting to know, our blessings are endless.

As I marveled at my blessings, an intense sensation and desire compelled me to seek out an activity that we could do to pause and to give thanks.

So as family and friends arrived, each was given a paper that included a brief statement about Thanksgiving and instructions to respond to the questions below.  All were asked not to sign their name.

What are you thankful for?

Who are you thankful for?

Everyone was instructed to fold the paper and place it in a designated container and were told that the responses would be read later. Since there are usually many of us, for dinner we are scattered throughout the house. The elders sit at the dining room table, the kids at another designated spot, and the rest of us group together and sit wherever. So before dinner we form a huge circle around the kitchen island, hold hands, and say grace.

I decided that right before we blessed the food was an ideal time to read the comments. I started first by making a brief declaration about why I wanted to perform the ritual and asked all to take part. We each took a paper and read the responses to the two questions.

For me, the moment was heartfelt, surprising, and encouraging. I felt gratified to look around the room and see almost everyone reflecting on the comments and the moment.

My day was highlighted by my friend of 37 years who joined us with her two children for dinner. We’ve been friends since we were 9 years old. Those kind of friends are very hard to come by anymore. Soon she’ll be moving out-of-state and I don’t know when we’ll get together again, so it was important to me that we got to spend some time together.

The second highlight was meeting a new family member for the first time. For privacy reasons, I’ll call her Delia. She joined us along with her husband for dinner. Later in the evening, Deli shared her intimate story with me of how she connected with her paternal father, whom she did not know existed.

Delia was a breath of fresh air! She radiated an abundance of CHI that I wanted to feed off. Although Delia could easily have allowed anger and resentment to invade her spirit, she made a conscious decision to embrace the positive and to become acquainted with her new family.

The last person left the house at around 12:30 a.m. Me, hubby, and our daughter finished cleaning up and headed to bed. Although I was exhausted from the long day, I went to sleep smiling as I thought about my awesome Thanksgiving Day.

5 thoughts on “My family’s new Thanksgiving tradition

    • Thank you Juan! Sorry for the delayed reply. For some reason, your comment was marked as spam and I missed it, so I’m just responding now. My friend piggy backed on this idea and exchanged kind words instead of gifts with family members. Happy holiday!

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