I am, by nature, a “Thanksgiving-hater”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for pretty much everything in my life, every day.  I don’t hate giving thanks.  I have just, pretty much always, hated Thanksgiving – the day, the making of the food, the forceful “getting together”…

It started early on, back in Milwaukee, when Thanksgiving was my nuclear family – mom, dad, G.G., me, Tony and Alex – and my Grandma (mom’s mom), who mom would pick up either that morning or the evening before.  Mom would cook all day (stressing about it most of the day) – on her own at first, then later with me as her “helper” (although I doubt my huge sighs and long face eased her stress any – or that I even significantly “helped” in any way) while my father and brothers would watch football on TV.  We would have dinner around seven (always two hours later than mom had planned) with my Grandma  saying “I don’t like the turkey – it’s so dry – but I love the dressing!)  And then we would clean up until about 10. Good times.

My mom cooked a fabulous dinner for six every night of my childhood – without a second thought – but Thanksgiving dinner?  Stressed her out.

So when I became an adult, I decided to forgo Thanksgiving – at least the cooking part – even though, I too, cooked all the time.  I would not be victim to turkey and stuffing and all that goes with it – I would “run away” to a vacation spot, preferably sunny, with a restaurant that served up all of the food with none of the work.  Or, I would, later, “partake” in Thanksgiving with friends, family – helping cook, bringing a dish – but no Thanksgiving for me, thank you.  The last few years it’s been me and Paul pretty much avoiding Thanksgiving – one year it was takeout from Whole Foods, last year it was dinner at the Smoke House… you get the picture.

But this year, due to many circumstances for which I am very grateful – I ended up hosting Thanksgiving in our two bedroom, 1200 square foot apartment – for 13 people; 9 of whom were in from out of town (staying at a hotel).  Until this moment I was the only person who had every actually COOKED in my kitchen (which, for a place in time picture, is the size of a walk-in closet).  But the universe made my friends descend and I opened myself up to the whole thing.  What the heck, right?  So.  Wednesday we shopped and cooked – 7 hours – then I cooked more

and cleaned my sad little destroyed kitchen and gulped down a glass of wine as if if were the breath of life itself…

The next morning my girlfriends showed up at 10 am – and we cooked.  And cooked.  And cooked.   Then the husbands and kids showed up – three hours before we were going to

eat dinner – so we made sandwiches and cooked – and went for a walk – and played football – and cooked.  At one point, there were 6 people cooking in my kitchen – the floor was SO dirty I had to take a break to scream “THE FLOOR IS SO DIRTY!!  I’M FREAKING OUT!!!” – which made everyone laugh – and then we went back to cooking.  The kids went out and got leaves and bought gold coins to decorate the table – they made and set place cards – Olivia, who is ten, made up menus and handed them out…  We lit candles… and then we sat down to eat the FIRST THANKSGIVING DINNER I HAD HOSTED IN…  maybe EVER.

Looking around that table, at

my amazing husband who never once questioned us hosting a dinner for 13 in a room that comfortably fits 6 – and has been that amazingly welcoming about everything in our life together, every single thing – at friends whom I have known for more of my life than I have not known them now – at their children, their amazing children – I got it.  Finally.

It’s not just about being thankful for what you have.  Sometimes it’s about being thankful for what you can GIVE.  Even when you don’t think you have enough to give – you actually, really do.  You just have to be willing to give it.  And that realization?  Is TRULY something to be grateful for.

I have things to give.  Things I never knew.  And so do you.

Let the season of giving (and thanking) begin!


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