With the blustery weather lately, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Starbucks has released their coveted new cup design and wishlist features on websites have begun to pop up like Christmas lights on homes. Call me a grinch, but I refuse to give into the holiday hullabaloo until Thanksgiving has come and passed. There are no Christmas lights twinkling along my roof and no stockings hung on my mantel. For me, this season is purely reserved for Thanksgiving and the gratitude that ensues.
Lately I’ve seen a lot of posts using the cliché hashtag “thankful” and I couldn’t help but wonder why this hashtag has become such a monumental joke this time of year. I realize that it is generally used on photos of women donning their perfectly paired clothes, clutching their Starbucks cup, I feel that we all have so much to be #thankful for. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I will be taking next week off from blogging to observe the week in totality with my wonderful friends and family and take part in our traditions.
I adore traditions of any sort. Coming from a giant German family, we are certainly no stranger to them. One of my favorites is the way our family celebrates Thanksgiving. At the risk of sounding “basic” this is one of the things I am #thankful for.
Setting the table. Each year, my family sets our Thanksgiving table(s) for 30-40 people. Although we have a large family, our table extends beyond blood relatives. People bustle around the house like hens in the roost, preparing a number of delicious items and making sure that the wine glasses never empty. Hearty laughter is heard all throughout the house as stories and jokes are shared among friends and relatives. Prayers are said before we file though the line of food buffet style, heaping far too much onto our plates.
In past years, I have made the joke that our family plays host to all of our wayward friends and “surrogate” family members. We collect friends as family and gather together as one on this special day. As a hungry and broke college student, I was notorious for bringing friends and acquaintances home for the holidays. If you didn’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter, you had a place at our table and in our home.
We have one simple rule for our family meals: nobody leaves hungry. Those of you that knew me in grade school know that this statement extends beyond traditional family dinner, as my grandma will feed anybody with an empty stomach. Guests are sent home well-fed and stocked up on leftovers. This is something I am thankful for. My family makes sure to include anyone who wants to take part in our family dinner and makes sure they leave full and happy. We build our family by the blood we bear and by the friends we gather.
It takes a village. Our family is no stranger to cooking and we all believe in doing our part. Each year my step dad smokes the turkey on his Traeger while my mother makes her fluffy mashed potatoes. My Aunt Debbie makes the famed Green Bean Casserole, and my Aunt Teresa makes her delectable fruit dip. I can tell you honestly that all of us grandkids will still fight to the death for the final slice of Grandma’s peanut butter pie. But it’s not the food that makes this day so special, it is the people preparing it.
For my family, gratitude multiplies like the dishes. Cooking for our little army is no small feat, but it is absolutely worth it for the joy of working together. We are a farming family and hard work is to be expected, each person doing their part to accomplish the whole. This mindset is found throughout the day, right down to doing the dishes as each of us lines up to scrape plates and wash pans like a finely tuned relay team. I am so thankful for the spirit of teamwork that lives in my family.
We gather together. Despite our differences, my family always stands behind one another. We are far from the Brady Bunch, but we are thankful for one another. Thanksgiving is far from the only family dinner we have. We find as many reasons to gather together as often as we can. This serves as a strong reminder that at the end of the day, we all stand together as one.
These are my people. This is where I come from. I will hereby admit that while I am the family midget, I am far from unfortunate. This photo was taken this year as my grandparents celebrated their 56th anniversary. Their undying love and compromise inspires me. I was raised to practice what I preach, follow my own intuition, and to never forget where I came from. We sit in crowded gyms for volleyball games, pedal mobile bars up steep hills, and get rained on at swim meets for the simple joy of being there together to support one another. I am so thankful for my family, they are the best people I know.
Adding some chairs. My family has been fortunate enough to continue to build a bigger table over the years and we always look forward to adding new chairs. I hold my family to the highest standards, and I never thought that I would find someone whose family is as welcoming and wonderful as my own. There are a lot amazing things I can say about the Lahr family, and none of these things could possibly begin to do them justice. They are some of the kindest people I have ever met, and their passion for life is incredible. To say that I value my time with them is an understatement. Each outing is an adventure and holds a special place in my heart. I am beyond thankful to be one of “the kids” and to have a place in their family.
I generally refrain from bragging about my boyfriend (Chad), in this blog for the simple fact that I struggle to find the words to accurately portray how I feel about him. Despite this and given the nature of the season, I believe that something must be said. Much like his parents, Chad is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. He puts up with Aslan’s slobber and always makes sure to let me know how much he cares. He is absurdly patient, especially when I’m deciding where I want to eat. His knowledge of 80’s songs is impressive and you can bet he’ll karaoke them. I admire his compassion and resourcefulness. He’s my scary movie partner, my person, and my best friend. I am endlessly thankful for him.
The last word. While this post has primarily featured my family and our traditions, that is not all that I am thankful for. I am also thankful for you, my readers, and your support. I wish you the happiest holiday as you gather with your family/friends/pets. May you all go to bed happy, loved, full, and warm. I hope your blessings outnumber the leaves on the ground this season and that you are able to build a bigger table and a smaller fence. Find reasons to connect and remember that there is always something to be thankful for.
Happy Holidays, my friends. Stay excellent.
What are you #thankful for?