When I was about 10 years old, I experienced one of the worst Thanksgivings. My dad has a drinking problem, anger issues, and well the childhood had some turbulence. For this particular Thanksgiving he had taken me down the road to play while he tanked up, we were gone a lot longer than we should have been, and when we got home my mom was not happy. She had prepared Thanksgiving dinner, and there was no one there on time to eat it. The tempers went out the door…..as did our Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, they threw every bit of it onto the front lawn.
It was then that I wished for a real family Thanksgiving.
We’ve had some decent ones over the years, but not since we brought home Anna and Tanner. You see, big holiday meals are a horrible mess when it comes to my kids with major food issues. The overstimulation of all that holidays entail bring about a misery that can’t really be explained. It leads one to dread any and all days that do not follow the typical expectations and patterns of every day life.
This year was full of overpowering dread for me. We have been struggling this year. After being home for more than three years, my kids still suffer. They still have a lot of behavior issues, and every day is still daunting. One of my kids has been really having issues, and I’m not going to lie, most days I end up on my knees begging the Lord for it to be better.
Needless to say, I was NOT looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. A holiday with a majorly food based influence….yeah…disaster ahead.
Then today happened.
Today we woke up to one child nearly emptying all of their bodily functions into their bed, only making it to the toilet barely in time. But hey…a make it to the toilet save is still a win.
Then we noticed it had snowed.
I used to love snow, until my little Ukrainian kids came home and sobbed when they were exposed to it. They HATED snow, cried, shivered, bawled, snotted, threw tantrums, and cried some more when exposed to snow. This morning I figured we would be in for the same.
They happily went out for morning chores.
They even….wait for it…..PLAYED in the snow! Yes, they really authentically played in the snow. It is rare that they play at all. They made snow balls, they threw them, they ran, they laughed. They even developed a game between themselves where they would wait until both had a snowball (no hitting the other while they were making theirs) and then would just run screaming and laughing in the same direction until one could hit the other. It was SO cute.
Grace delighted in the snow, her first real experience with that cold, white, wonderful stuff. She laughed, fell into, kicked, and sampled the icy goodness.
Andy decided to use a broom to “rake” the cars off for us instead of the actual rake he tried to use last time.
Since John has to work the actual day of Thanksgiving, and our guest couldn’t make it due to weather, we decided to do it this day. All of it.
I cooked, and cooked, and cooked, and cooked some more. Four pies, a cake, rolls, ham, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, appetizers, green beans, mac and cheese, you name it. Oh and freshly ground flour pie crusts are AMAZING.
I made up a bunch of pie crusts and had the kids sit at the table. We let them make their own little apple pies to have with their lunch. It went SO well. No one cried, no one threw stuff on the floor, no one zoned out, no one got overstimulated and lost control of their behavior. It was awesome. One little toddler might have snuck a few bites.
The kids hauled wood from the pile down to the house with John, rode the sled, watched Jack Frost, and….well this….
John bathed the kids beforehand, and we sat down to dinner. Thanksgiving dinner in your feety pajamas, what could be better?
Dinner went off without a hitch!
No eating so fast that someone puked. No Heimlich required. No being overly obsessed with everyone else’s plate that yours falls off the table. No crying. No spitting food. No one had to be excused from the table for anything. No stealing food. Everyone made it through dessert without any problems.
It’s the first meal we’ve had in over three years that this has happened.
I was joyful all day, the kids (while needing a few discipline moments) enjoyed their day so much. No one was to hyper active, tired, grouchy, pouting, whiny, or uncontrollable. No one soiled their pants over the age of 20 months.
This was literally the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had.
I sit here with my rounded belly jumping with life, sipping my tea, enjoying my dream come true.
At one point today I had baby in my belly, Grace on my hip, my bigs all around in the kitchen, and John standing at the counter helping me roll out dough. I helped my kids put little fingers to work pinching dough for their own little pies (something that normally would have overwhelmed us all). I sang Christmas music aloud with all my little kitchen helpers for hours. I read books with my girls, and threw snowballs at my boys.
I was wrapped more than once in the warm embrace of my best friend and husband of 11 years. The man who works so hard to give his family a warm home, healthy food to eat, and really does everything in his power to make my life good.
At the end of the day I put away the leftovers, hugged all of those grateful little people with full bellies, and gave thanks.
For today I had the best Thanksgiving ever. Today I am the richest of them all. Saved by a loving God, loved by a faithful husband, adored by four little people, and pregnant with a healthy baby boy who was predicted to never be a possibility. Our home isn’t huge by today’s standards, but it’s warm, clean, cozy, and today was filled with love and laughter.
Yes, today I am richest of them all.