/ / Thanksgiving Tradition, a Gaggle, and V-formation

Thanksgiving Tradition, a Gaggle, and V-formation


We have a Thanksgiving breakfast tradition my gaggle of kids looks forward to each year. While the sun was waking and my family was still snoozing, I set the table to honor this tradition this morning.

The house was still as I quietly gathered our favorite turkey day wares that I’ve curated over the years and we’ve come to love to use as to greet our Thanksgiving mornings.

In years past, I would set the table long after little kids would go to bed. Recently though the now-big-kids are turning in much later than Jon and me—thanks to aging, healing, a brain cancer journey, and keeping healthy routines.

I woke more rested after sleeping through the night for the first time in months. Hashtag grateful—this is the day we label all the things for which we are grateful. So I set a festive table even though I was prepared to let it go for this year. 

I’m grateful (as were the kids and Jon) I didn’t let it go.

I was grateful I found a moment to set out the mugs and turkey plates as I finished preparing our favorite Thanksgiving tradition with our famous breakfast treats.

I was also grateful for the way the sunrise caught my attention.

I took a photo to remember. I have always loved to keep a record of life in pictures.

I’ve always taken lots of photos to mark moments. It seems I’ve done this more than ever this past year.  I know someday I will be grateful for these.

Photos and memories shed light on what is truly important.

Last night, I took a few photos of each of the kids stepping in to help prepare our Thanksgiving dinner. I will treasure these photos and their desire to step up and help make our turkey day unforgettable.

Each kiddo used their gifts and what they have learned about hosting by watching us welcome others into our home over the years. The gift of hospitality goes beyond entertaining.

“True hospitality is welcoming the stranger on her own terms. This kind of hospitality can only be offered by those who’ve found the center of their lives in their own hearts.”—Henri Nouwen.

Over the last week, we’ve been reminiscing about past Thanksgiving gatherings and anticipating our favorite dishes—the ones that will someday tell others our story about holidays and traditions.

We had two friends invite us to join their Thanksgiving tables to break bread and lighten our load, given that brain cancer and surgery recovery have been part of our story. We really could have easily chosen to be seated at either of those tables. Still, it seemed more appro pro to rest and give thanks at home.  

My first thought was to say, “We’ll just stay home and enjoy the quiet.” But if you know me and my house, it is hardly ever quiet here. We will always be grateful for the noisy love and laughter in this house.

While incredibly humbled and touched by our two dear friends’ generous and kind invitations, we graciously declined to continue the traditions that feel like home to our family.

Feeling like home seems to be more important than ever.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”—G. K. Chesterton

While always focused on hope, our hearts are heavy for many things this holiday—some things are not meant to be shared, and perhaps there is the deeply felt loss of those who no longer break bread at our table. 

The act of gathering together and defining hospitality has come to mean something different, maybe more meaningful than the moments we gathered in the past. 

“Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.”—Henri Nouwen.

Watching the kids embrace the traditions they have come to love as they helped prepare a meal we could share might have been the balm this weary momma’s soul needed this Thanksgiving. Gratitude comes in many ways.

Each of the kids helped me prepare a part of the meal with the wisdom and guidance of our master chef, who is currently focusing on getting strong and healing well. 

Just the six of us gathered to eat an outstanding meal at our table tonight. Many hands sure made for light work. 

We all agreed it was just the best for a multitude of reasons. Some of those reasons relate to a need for physical healing; others relate to healing hearts and reconciling things that take some time that can’t be measured. Another reason, simply put, is there is no place like home right now.

Holidays are undoubtedly beautiful. Gosh, we are quintessential holiday people. But they can still be hard for so many reasons.

We love some good holiday traditions and have a couple of decades creating some for our family. I have shared for years how we adore this season.

Even if they have to be altered a bit because of circumstances beyond our control, traditions are essential in the foundations we create within our families. They connect us and root us to our beginnings. They remind us of the hopes and dreams we had when we start raising our own families.

Traditions bridge what we have cultivated over the years to the futures our children/young adults hold in their hearts for their own prospective families.

I looked back at the photo from this morning of the sunrise gleaming toward the mugs and table where we gather for our traditions.

I couldn’t help but see the light pointing toward the coffee cups holding the letters of the people we have raised, some of whom are beginning to see their futures and dreams come into view. 

We are excited about their futures, the traditions they plan to hold on to (hopefully some they’ll continue), and those they intend to someday create for their own families. Because in truth, it all matters to hold onto some and to make new ones too.

The people—the souls we were gifted and trusted to raise—inside this home we built, are here for the traditions that remind them that home and each other can be a soft place to land.

I couldn’t help but notice the mugs coincidently were placed on the table in a formation similar to that of the geese I saw flying overhead on our walk on Tuesday.

They reminded me of the V-formation geese fly in when migrating. They fly in such a way to conserve energy and reduce wind resistance.

When geese fly, they support and encourage one another as they flap their wings in the wind—this is especially true when one in the flock needs extra support. The stronger birds are literal wingmen and stick close to those wounded or sick—usually, one on either side until they safely land. The stronger geese fly forward and lead the flight to keep the flock moving forward so those who need rest move to the back and get caught in the supportive wind of the geese in front. 

I watch this happen with my gaggle of kids each day as they support and encourage every member of this house, our domestic church.

It’s certainly not perfect, but they work at it with intention—they say sorry and ask for forgiveness, reconcile hard things and try to put the needs of each other before their own. More than anything, they love without demands or unrealistic expectations, and they offer love without conditions. 

“To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become in a special way the servant of the others.”—Pope St. John Paul, II.

I am grateful for this flock who joyfully returns to this nest even while in their most formative years. My four birds, kids, are growing and spreading their wings, discovering and becoming who they feel called to be—the formation of responsible, contributing faithful members of society.

At the same time, they offer encouragement, respect, inspire, communicate with, and support each other, especially when presented with a few extra obstacles along the way.

They consistently “fly” in a v-formation to support each other especially when another (even their parents) is in need. 

I pray they continue to embrace this desire to support one another, to hold onto the traditions that ground them, to have hearts focused on true hospitality, and as they fly forward, foster their relationships with unconditional love. 

And when life presents challenges that find them stuck, I pray they remind one another above all things, God loves them. His grace and mercy have the power to redeem all things. 

“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34

I pray you and your gaggle had a Thanksgiving filled with abundant blessings and unconditional love.

I pray the promise of the Advent season brings you Hope, Love, Joy, Peace, and Christ.

I pray you are blessed by these words here today. I am ever so grateful to be able to meet you here in this space. This time here is a sacred space for me.

I am grateful for the continued messages and prayers for our family. It is an honor to be lifted by your prayers. We continue to pray for your intentions too.

Happy Thanksgiving from my gaggle to yours.

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