In honor of this month’s Let’s Lunch gratitude theme, I’m re-posting this message from a couple of years ago. It’s about a tradition in our family which highlights our thankfulness for something in the previous year. The tradition will be skipped this year because, for the first time in many years, we aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving at our house.
We won’t even all be together.
Instead, David and I will be in California spending a too-quick four days with our youngest son, who is at Camp Pendleton completing his training to be a Marine.
And so, my gratitude today, as it does every day now, centers around my little family and treasuring the times we have together, be it lying around watching TV, playing games, carrying on a hilarious group text message session—or eating, which appears to be our most favorite activity.
When the Young Son graduated from boot camp in September, we had planned a fancy dinner out that Friday night after the ceremony and activities. We thought he would want to have a special dinner and enjoy being out on the town. But all he wanted was just to “hang.”
We listened to his stories from boot camp as we ate a simple home-cooked meal in a rented kitchen far from home. The three kids piled on the sofas in the house we had rented and watched TV together, played on their cell phones, picked at each other, and laughed A LOT.
I watched them with a heart full and felt love and joy fill the room as we all did nothing—we sat around that night as though that extraordinary day in Casey’s life were any other ordinary day.
And it will live in family lore as one of the best nights ever.
Having spent the last five months with one of my children being far away and with very limited communication, I’ve realized more than ever just how fleeting and precious is any time that the five of us have together.
If I were to write on the tablecloth this year, it would simply say, “Moments.”
“Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life.” (Brian Andreas)
The Thanksgiving Tablecloth
November 10, 2010
We started a Thanksgiving tradition about seven years ago — everyone signs the tablecloth at Thanksgiving, writing about something for which they are especially thankful. We leave the tablecloth on the table throughout the holiday season, and encourage family, friends, and anyone who spends time in our home to share their blessings.
Each year, we sift through the memories, chuckling at some and crying at some as we remember happy moments and challenges that have faced family and friends through the years.
Usually, the family gathers at my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. In 2005, she traveled to “the big city” to share the day at our house. Just a few days after she wrote this, she had unexpected open heart surgery at the age of 82. She is still with us, and for that we are thankful. (Editor’s note 11/9/12: Granny turned 89 this year, and she is still going strong!)
We have a split family. Our immediate family and my husband’s brother sit squarely in the University of Georgia camp, while my husband’s sisters’ families are big Georgia Tech fans. There are usually some football comments dotting the tablecloth each year. (Editor’s note 11/9/12: Brian would have my head if I didn’t update that since he wrote the message below in ’05, he went off to college at Georgia Southern, which of course means that his beloved Eagles take precedence now over UGA or any other team. GATA!)
The tablecloth also serves as a reminder of those we have lost over the years. Reading their comments sparks memories, conversation, and stories — lots of stories. We are a storytelling family!
My husband’s mother wrote the message above, in what turned out to be her last Thanksgiving here on Earth. It’s a treasured, tangible piece of her that brings her spirit to the table as we enjoy our turkey feast.
Family, friends and good wine — what more do you need?
Our tablecloth is not expensive. It’s not a fine fabric and has no exquisite lace. But it is a family heirloom that will be cherished for many years.
What is your holiday tradition?
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