For Non-Perfect Family Thanksgiving Dinners:

I’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinner most years, since we’ve been married, for my husband’s side of the family.

I normally begin drinking around 11am when the turkey goes in the oven.  By the time 5pm rolls around we are both baked.    (Relax mom, kidding)

I wouldn’t need to do this if they would just act like the people in the commercials do at the holidays.

All I really want is for them to show up, laughing and holding warm pies when I open the door to greet them.  I dream of everyone sitting around one big table, with matching chairs and silver serving dishes, eating and not being able to think of a single complaint to discuss.  I’d love for my dog to curl up on the rug and wag his tail at our feet while we eat.  Is it really too much to ask for my husband to gingerly slice the turkey with one of those long knifes and shiny fork looking things, into thin even slices while I gaze at him seemingly unbothered at all that he did nothing to prepare for the dinner yet is now getting the glory for the perfectly roasted turkey?  The warm and fuzzy feeling melting all over me is what I fantasize about.

But guess what?

In the many years I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve noticed a trend:  The way our family has always acted is likely exactly how they will act again this year.

There will likely be a couple people who aren’t speaking to each other.  There will be some arguing as they enter the front door.  Kids will be hyper.  Their parents will get angry when a family member tells their little snowflake to stop throwing rolls.  My dog will bark excessively and jump all over everyone.  He may even pee in the floor from the excitement.  We will use a sharpie to write our names on white styrofoam cups.  There are approximately 14 chairs in my house and will be roughly 40 people trying to snag one.  Over dinner someone will certainly bring up their firm opinions on why being on, or being off the Trump Train is what Jesus would do.  It’s guaranteed that something will spill, someone will cry and someone will leave mad.

That’s what REAL families look like.

I’m guessing there are some Thanksgiving commercial quality families out there somewhere, but I’ve never met them.  I probably would have to drink even more if I were to spend the day with them.  Not being real is exhausting after a while.

My Thanksgiving wish for you, for me, for all of us is to just embrace it.  Love the people God gave you.  Invite someone to your dinner who is lonely.  Welcome the new boyfriend/girlfriend that your cousin will bring.  Don’t use this day to try and change people.  Speak kindly to each other, even to the ones you don’t really like.  They feel just as uptight as you do, promise.  Tell funny stories of the loved ones who have passed and are no longer with us.  Let go of all the expectations and enjoy the best you can manage.

Be Thankful.

It will all be over soon.

 

Broken and Crumbly

I woke up at 2am, heart pounding, sweating.

It sounds like it could be a chapter opener from a cheap romance novel, but I am neither cheap nor romantic feeling at the moment.

It could have been the pimento cheese sandwich and big piece of chocolate cake I ate before bedtime.

Or it could have been that my bedroom felt hot, despite the reading on the thermostat and the fan blowing over my bed that I use mostly for white noise.

Maybe it was the sweet lady who helps run an orphanage in Myanmar, who prayed for me after dinner at a friend’s house.  Maybe that’s what had my heart triggered. I didn’t understand a single word she said aside from the couple times I overheard her softly say my name in an accent you don’t hear around Kentucky. For all I know she could have been passionately praying for rain, but it felt a little too personal for that.

After several failed attempts of trying to relax enough to go back to sleep, I finally succumbed to my thoughts and allowed myself to begin sorting them through.  I decided I should at least be productive if I’m going to lay here awake.

In keeping with being as real and transparent as possible with this blog (because otherwise what’s the point really?) I will risk my people pleasing, appearance keeper-upper tendency and admit to you this:

It’s been a bad year.

I have only had one or two other years in my entire life that could measure against this one. When I think of my life this year the first image that pops into my mind is a pile of rocks. Not to sound too Charlie Brownish, but “I got a rock.”

At 2am, when I’d much rather be sleeping, I was lying in bed thinking it over. Thinking of all my disappointments and wondering when and if they will end.

I thought of friendships that were tested this year.

Some of the biggest joys in my life are the people I discover on the other side of a storm. You really don’t know how good anything is, truly, until it’s been tested. Until it’s been proven. Before the test, you just have to take people at their word.  People who can walk with me in my wins, and walk with me through the losses.  The ones who know my many flaws and still love me….those are my people.  Test driven friends make everything feel better.

Some of my biggest disappointments are the friends who are only there for a season. The ones who celebrate victories, but run away during the defeats.  They are also priceless. They make us wiser and tougher. I’m grateful for them as well. They grew me even though it hurt.

I thought of how fast my kids are growing up. I thought of how much I hate hearing that cliché, but how true it is anyway.

I thought of how much I wish my Dad could see all their milestones and enjoy them with me.  I thought about how much I miss him.

I pondered of all the trials and anxieties that somehow managed to all fit inside this calendar year.

I wondered if it’s over yet. If at the end of being busted up into chunks if  I’ll turn around only to be further chopped away at until I’m reduced to being a pile of gravel sized pieces.

I have to admit this to myself and, for some reason, feel led to admit it to you.

That’s not to say that I’m not also simultaneously dripping in abundant blessings.

I don’t think life is ever all good or all bad, but right now, this year in particular, the balance is off.

I’m still me.

I carry on.  I take care of my kids.  I snuggle up with my husband at night. I work and contribute, but it’s a broken version of myself. I’ve crumbled some, but still all-in-all together in one piece.

I am being reshaped.

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, broken and weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” Vance Havner

So if I have to be the broken version of myself for now, I may as well be useful.

Repurposed.

Upcycled.

Reinvented.

I’m being made new!

Despite how much the hits are bruising, I’m being molded and made better than before.

And as though it is an audible signal from God, my daughter’s alarm is going off.

Time to close the laptop and get kids to school.

Time to go to work.

Time to keep living, keep moving, even while the ground shifts beneath my feet and remind myself that this is all part of a grander plan.

Tonight, though, I’ll be giving Tylenol PM a try.