Of all the holidays celebrated in America, Thanksgiving would be my favorite. After all, it revolves around food - vast, copious quantities of it - and you get to invite the people you want to share said food around a beautifully decorated table. The weather is (usually) perfect, the light outside is golden, and there's pie.
This year, even as I shop, prep and bake for orders, I am struggling to summon up the anticipation and joy that carries me through my favorite season. For the first time in years, we are not hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Too many losses of life, illness, relationship conflicts and more over the past year have me wanting to sit curled up on the couch with a book and a cup of hot chocolate.
Then we participated in the Holiday Market this past weekend, where I got to see people's eyes go wide at a taste of our pecan pie. A little girl with her pigtails askew who hopped up and down as she excitedly pointed to a cookie. A grown man (who is a fine cook himself) get rapturous over our cranberry chutney. Yes, it all made me happy, and reminded me of why I do what I do.
But, sitting like a lead brick in my tummy was the knowledge that immediately after Market, I was going to a Celebration of Life for a friend who decided that she couldn't go on any longer. As her obituary was read at the Celebration, it reminded me of the little girl at market, with her pigtails askew. My friend was once that little girl. Her daughter is not much older than that little girl. My teenage daughters were once that little girl. My friend's family has been devastated by three unexpected losses in the past year, and the fabric of their lives will never be whole again.
So, I may not celebrate in the same way this year, and that's okay. I have plenty of things to give thanks for, but more importantly, I want to live thankfully. Not by eating turkey and pie one day this year, but whenever I feel like it. Even if that means anxiously eating half a pie out of the pan while waiting for my teenage daughter to text me that she had arrived safely after her first solo road trip. Because life, love, balance, joy, stress - each one of those things looks different for each of us - and that's okay.
Here's wishing all of you a Thanksgiving holiday that allows you to celebrate the way you want to, and hopefully with whom you want to. If that means eating take-out by yourself in front of the television, that's okay. If it means going out to dinner with chosen family, that's okay too. I hope to bundle up, and walk around Lake Lynn while holding my husband's hand. And come home to pie.
Wife, mother, baker, jam maker, hug dispenser, reader.