The best Thanksgiving I ever had was in 1994. I’d finally been kissed by the man of my dreams the night before. After months of writing letters overseas, he flew home and invited me to Thanksgiving dinner. I met his whole family, his closest friends, and his grandma who forlornly asked, “she’s not Norwegian at all?” My heart raced when I caught him looking at me across the room, and when he held my hand under the table. I was falling deeply in love. I was thankful.
Several years later, the man of my dreams cooked a huge Thanksgiving dinner for our friends. We had a great time laughing, drinking, and admiring Chris’s culinary skills. After dinner we all went around the table to share what we were thankful for. One friend drew a tiny circle on a piece of paper, pointed to it, and said, “I’m thankful for our baby, who’s about this size in my belly right now.” We all clapped and cheered. Then 5 minutes later another couple announced their pregnancy. We clapped and cheered again, but my heart cracked inside with sorrow and envy. I was barren. I was not thankful.
Many years after that I arrived at Thanksgiving green with morning sickness. The man of my dreams and I were pregnant with twins. I’d been surviving on room temperature orange seltzer, frozen green beans, and tiny spoonfuls cottage cheese. Chris’s mom gently offered me warm, buttery, soft mashed potatoes. They were heavenly. I laughed and ate four helpings. I was finally pregnant. I was thankful.
The worst Thanksgiving I ever had was in 2011. The man of my dreams had lost his beloved mom. The one who kindly welcomed me that giddy night in 1994, who taught Chris how to cook for friends, who prayed for me to get pregnant and served the magic mashed potatoes. I don’t even remember where or how we did Thanksgiving that year. My husband’s mom, my kids’ Mimi, and my dear friend, had died. I was not thankful.
All of us are coming to the Thanksgiving table feeling differently. Some of us will be flushed with new love from boyfriends or babies. Some of us will be gray with heavy grief. Most of us will be somewhere in between.
It could be one of the perks of depression and anxiety, but even when my plate in full, my cup is full, and my table is full, I’m going to feel a little empty. I don’t ding my glass with a salad fork and make a toast to my sorrows, but they are there, politely waiting to be addressed later when we’re alone in sweatpants.
I used to feel bad about this, that I couldn’t whole heartedly bound into the holiday season full of grateful joy. But now I own it. This is how I live my life in Christ, acknowledging the good and bad in the same moment. I don’t have have to pretend. But I better not sass and moan all over someone’s moment of gratitude or giggle and sing over someone’s moment of pain.
Faith is defined as being “sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” That means, here in the grit and grind of my unanswered prayers, I’m choosing to be grateful about good things that haven’t happened yet. I’m believing that everything that makes me weary, sad, hopeless, or angry will someday be resolved. Hopefully here, in my lifetime. But definitely in the future, in heaven. I can be thankful for that.
Someday my single friends will know they’re chosen.
Someday my barren friends will create new life.
Someday my chronic back pain will be gone.
Someday my kids won’t need so many doctor appointments.
Someday I’ll eat mashed potatoes with Chris’s mom again.
But not yet.
You are loved.
Other Holiday Posts:
- Valentine’s Day Sucks
- Don’t Touch My Face (Ash Wednesday)
- You Gotta Be You (Halloween)
- A Birthday Party (Christmas)
© Aimee Fritz and Family Compassion Focus, 2015.