Today, like so many people in our country, I gathered with my extended family - both blood relatives and chosen family - to celebrate Thanksgiving.
As we stood together before our meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said. We took a moment to go around this multi-generational circle and share what we were thankful for this year. Health, friends, the return of children from Iraq, good food, laughter and forgiveness. All of those things were mentioned in our circle today.
Then, all together, we sang grace - our voices blending from years of singing the same grace together. Even my youngest child knows the words and the notes and can probably sing it in her sleep. There are always lots of interesting harmonies and improvised, competitive "Amens" at the end. I love it, and I couldn't imagine a family meal without this grace...
And as I looked around the room (from my vantage point at the CHILDREN'S TABLE!), I thought how thankful I am for this life I live.
I have parents who are healthy. They are friends and mentors to me now. They encourage me and laugh with me and play Christmas carols on the piano with me and, occasionally, scold me. They love my children and my husband. They celebrate our successes and mourn our pain. They are here for the littlest, most seemingly mundane moments of our lives. I am so very thankful.
I have cousins and aunties and uncles whom I adore. I can't remember a time in my life with out them. Their constant, unconditional love is beyond amazing. And, on top of all of that - I like them. They are smart and funny. My Uncle is a terrific cook, and has a wicked laugh when he shares a great joke. My Auntie is such a caring soul, and yet, isn't the slightest bit afraid to tell it as she sees it. My cousin - the only other girl cousin in the batch - is unbelievable awesome - smart and compassionate and good humored and brave. The best thing about all of them is that they love to laugh and talk about serious world issues and then laugh some more. They all seem to know how lucky we all are and how wonderful this world is. I am thankful that I was born into this crazy good family.
I have chosen family that I adore. There is a reason that they were chosen - they fit. And they bring a whole new look at life into this crazy group of people - my uncle's family, my mom's fourteenth cousins twice removed, the people that make the holiday so special.
I have children and a husband who, despite my best efforts, love me and need me. They smile when they see me. They kiss me goodnight at the end of the day. They leap into my arms when I return home from work - well the children leap, Daddyman just sort of collapses.
We don't have banquets, but we have more than enough food on our table. We don't have the fanciest, latest fashions, but we have all of the clothing we need to keep us warm. We don't live in splendor, but we have a comfortable home to shelter us from the elements. We have what we need and some of what we want. Most importantly, we have the love and respect of those around us.
I am so very thankful to be a part of this crazy wonderful world.
I wouldn't change a single thing about it, today. I'd like to hold onto this warm feeling forever, capture the moment for tomorrow when I feel lonely or forgotten.
And so, I wish for all of you, peace and a sense of belonging in your lives. I wish for you joy and laughter. I wish for you music and improvised "Amens." I wish for you happiness. And most of all, I wish this for you: That you have the time to look around at where you are and know that this world is a wonderful place because you are in it.