Thanksgiving Leftovers

My philosophy for holiday celebrations has always been ‘the more, the merrier.’ Before we started coaching, we were living in the house we thought we’d live in forever back in Chicagoland.  The flow of the house, the finished walkout basement and the yard were all appointed with entertaining the masses in mind, and entertain we did. Every year we were in that home, to my delight, most of the holiday parties were held at our place. Since moving away from Chicago, holidays have had a quieter feel to them, even though the number of family members we have would be considered ‘company’ to most people. So somewhere in these last 11 years, I slowly grew accustomed to our smaller holiday celebrations.

Our kids, however, haven’t. Their best years were back in Chicago with Christmas parties of 40-50 people. They are used to their friends’ dads helping Mike hide Easter eggs for 20-or-so kids all around our yard. They still get a teeny bit sad when there aren’t friends interspersed around our holiday table. So this year, we were bursting with joy as we hosted friends from California along with our daughter Brooke’s boyfriend’s family from Texas. But it was Jackie’s call requesting permission to bring her schoolmate from Chicago that made me pause to reflect.

She said, ‘Mom, I’m wondering if I could bring my friend from school. This isn’t a boyfriend or anything, I just want him to be able to experience our family. His family has some challenges, and I want him to be able to see what the love of this family is like.’ This child has a heart of gold; I didn’t even hesitate to say yes. But as I grocery shopped and prepared, as I inflated mattresses and outfitted them with pillows and blankets, I began to wonder if this was the right thing to do. Thoughts such as, ‘what if he doesn’t really blend in?’; ‘what if he is a trouble-maker?’; and ‘what if he ruins the entire dynamic of the holiday?’ became louder in my head as the date approached. I figured the thought of sharing a house with 17 other people for five days may put him over the edge and he’d back out at the last minute, but six hours after Jackie and Brooke started driving from Chicago, the three of them walked through the front door.

photo 3

We can be incredibly overwhelming, but he hung in there. All of my ‘what ifs’ melted away within minutes, and I realized that we were about to experience what holidays are really all about. Especially Thanksgiving. Our daughter is so thankful for our family that she wanted one of her peers to be able to have a glimpse of what a stable home life would be like. I had gotten so used to ‘the more, the merrier’ encompassing only our immediate family that I forgot how truly enjoyable it is to extend myself to the needs of others. He was welcomed with open arms.

photo 1

What a joy and a privilege it was to be able to share a little bit of our blessings and to serve others. When Mike’s mother was alive she used to give a holler out the front door to passers-by ~ many of whom were on the way back from the neighborhood liquor store ~ and invite them to partake of a warm Thanksgiving meal with his family. Mike grew up knowing the importance of giving back, and we’ve tried to raise our children the same way. It warmed my heart to see them so willingly open our home and holiday celebration to others, just as we hoped they would grow up to do.

photo 2

This year, for so many reasons, I’m Thankful, indeed.



  1. Bree says:

    I love reading your blogs, they are truly thought provoking, and inspiring.

Leave a Comment