My (new) favorite Thanksgiving tradition
Two years ago my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma the day before Thanksgiving.
He spent the holiday and the following five days at the University of Chicago getting the first of six chemo treatments, while the rest of us, back at home, honored his request to celebrate the holiday, despite his absence.
We attempted to eat our turkey and stuffing as if everything was normal. But clearly, it wasn’t. If any of us forgot for a second about the situation we were in, the gaping hole at the head of the table served as a jarring reminder. He was less than 30 miles away, but it felt like so much more.
Despite really wanting him there, I was so grateful he wasn’t. I was grateful that, after waiting months for a diagnosis, he decided that even waiting one more day was simply too much.
As I reflected on the events of that week, and the months leading up to it, I wanted to do something a little different during our pre-meal ritual. Instead of sharing what I was grateful for in the larger sense, I wanted to focus on who I was grateful for and why. I went around to each person at the table and told them the beautiful things I see in them, the impact they’ve had on me and why I love them so much.
Last year I put a slightly different spin on it. I gave everyone an index card and a pen and told them to write their name at the top along with the date. Then, we passed the cards around the table and everyone wrote one word that captures what they love about that person. Eventually, the cards made it back around the table to their original place, now filled with the amazing qualities their loved ones see in them.
I share this with you as some food for thought as we all gather with family, friends and neighbors this week. After almost two of the hardest years we could collectively imagine, what do you want to say to those you love most in the world? What do you see in them that they might not? What gift can you give them this Thanksgiving?