I spent most of the late afternoon and evening at a friend’s house for Thanksgiving this year; it was definitely a contrast to last Thanksgiving, which I spent by myself with a box of Stovetop stuffing and a stack of movies. There were good things about Thanksgiving Day last year: silence and solitude are gifts I appreciate when I can get them. And there were better things about this year.
My friend Chris said a couple weeks ago that you don’t really know people until you can tell their stories. Today I got to hang out with a bunch of people who really know each other. (It was so cool.) At one point, someone said: “you know, people say they’ve never met any family who laughs as much as ours does” – and someone else said, “yeah, and really we should all be crying” – and then everyone laughed. And throughout the course of the evening, I really began understand the truth of that moment. In between the hilarious tales of humiliation and glory came the stories of the things that have not been so great – and yet through it all this family continues to smile, and to laugh, and to find joy in life and in each other. They talked about everything – religion, politics, education, Australia, strange dreams, spices, and wildebeest documentaries – and every serious note was book-ended by humor. There was a guy there who was a good friend of my friend’s dad, and he came over at one point and said to me, as talk continued around us, “This is why I love coming over here. It’s all gloom and doom, but at the same time, it’s just family, sitting around the kitchen table, and really talking.” And he was right. There was a lot of gloomy stuff to talk about – but there was also always something else to smile about.
Family dinners (in the tradition of biblical feasts) are meant to be celebrations – a time to stop and be thankful for the blessings God has given us in each other, a time to be okay with the fact that we don’t always see eye to eye on things but we can still love each other to pieces, a time to laugh not at each other but with each other about the 101 stupid things we do and say every day. We’re human. We’re idiots. God loves us anyway. These are truths that my friend’s family really seems to grasp, whether they’d phrase it that way or not. There are ways to laugh that are healthy, and there are ways that are not, and today, I got to spend a few hours laughing in a healthy environment. I got to watch people argue about important things, and yet not walk away furiously angry. I got to hear people tell each others’ stories and see them hug and snuggle and fuss over babies. It was like being dropped into a Norman Rockwell painting with extreme personality. And it was … perfect.
In the words of e.e. cummings: “i thank You God for most this amazing / day;”
It’s been an educational and inspirational day. I can only pray that someday, wherever I end up, I will find around my kitchen table a family as joy-full as the people I met today. They’re not perfect (who is?) but they know so much about doing life together well.
"Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else." —Fred Rogers via @momentumdash
Looking for something quick, light, and healthy for dinner this evening? Here's an idea! ow.ly/8pAk3099AdS
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Einstein