Monday, December 04, 2017

An Irreverent and Reverent Thanksgiving


All of the above is summed up in Thanksgiving.  While we are rushing headlong into the Christmas chaos, it is Thanksgiving that I always enjoy most.  The commercialization, the seasonal decor brought out in late August, and the Black Friday "rush for stuff" is a total turn off to me, and has tainted Christmas in many ways.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I still find joy in the music and the expectant anticipation of Advent, but Christmas as celebrated by most isn't something I relish.

This Thanksgiving was filled with laughter, snacks, playful banter, and moments of great depth.  Our dear friends, Candi and her wife Pam, traveled from Massachusetts to be with us, and their son Billy came home from his first semester at USC to join us, as well as their daughter Christi who is attending high school in nearby Carbondale, Colorado.  Yes, believe it or not, 11 people in our house for several days didn't feel cramped at all!  I thought it was so cute when Billy said, "I remember when we first got together and 11 of us felt like a lot of people, now it just feels normal!".  Love can do that for you, can't it?  It turns the awkward into awesome :-)

We did nothing of any importance, and Candi and I decided it was going to be a Pinterest Thanksgiving, and forced others to participate in silly crafts.  Those who know me understand how hilarious this is, and how craft impaired I am, so it was really more about the entertainment factor of how BAD it would be and not about the end result!  Here are some photos of and hard work:

Oh, the joy ahead...yeah, riiiiight!!

Candi, inordinately proud of her M&M stuffed turkey.
She has "mad skills"...hahaha!

Matt, our Master Glue Gun Operator and Eyeball Attacher

Kenny and Pam teamed up for each craft, our A Team!

The finished products!

We then moved outside, where Candi and I attempted a spray painting project.

Hmmm...wonder what this will turn into?

We worked at this a lot harder than it looks like!


Next we made rice krispy pumpkins, and everyone got in on the fun!

More eating happened than pumpkin-ing!

These two are so funny together!  Sometimes it feels we have added a third daughter, much to our delight.

Matt and Olesya, our "twins", cracking each other up!

Pumpkin Production Team

Aaaaand...another "win"!!
Two full trays of them, and they were all devoured in two days :-)
The boys had their late night gaming fuel!

We were on a roll, so why not one more in our Pinterest Day of Gluttony and Craft Crap?!?!?!


Kenny's, simple, yet elegant...haha!

Josh and Matt, intent on artistic works.

Olesya...upside down and right side up!

Yes, we felt like 2nd graders, yes, it was silly.
Yes, it was a fun way to spend an afternoon!
No, we are not Pinterest People ;-)

Dominick came home to a houseful of interesting goodies, and was probably quite pleased he didn't get sucked into the Pinterest vortex himself!

A feast...and with four teenage boys present, leftovers were at a minimum!

After all the laughter, all the clean up, and all the crafting, what I can not share with you are photos of the most intimate, meaningful time we all shared together.  There are times to simply be present to the mystery and wonder of deep connection, and our social media driven world would cheapen certain experiences.  All eleven of us ended our evening in a very special way, as we gathered in the dark, candle lit living room, and participated in something that has been dubbed by the kids our "Manship/Womanship Ceremony", which is a special recognition for each of our kids when they turn eighteen years old.  We wait until both families are gathered, and we share a time of reflection about the one who has newly attained official adult status.  Then, we present the son or daughter with a specially chosen key chain, and a house key to each of our houses.

This is a sacred moment for each of our kids, and prior to this night we had recognized Angela, Billy, and Kenny.  It is a rite of passage of sorts for each of our kids, one in which all who feel called to share thoughts about the young person can do so by looking back on who they were, how much they have matured and what they value in that person.  Their gifts and talents are lifted up, and their "overcomings" are celebrated.  By candlelight, each young adult hears how precious they are to those of us who love them so much, they hear words of encouragement to continue to grow into the person God is calling them to be, and they see the tears of joy, and hear the catch in the voices of others as they recall special moments spent in their company.

This night, it was Olesya and Matt's turn, as they each turned eighteen this summer.  This ritual matters, it calls each of our young adults to live into all we see in them.  It allows us to say good bye to childhoods, and hello to new adult lives and responsibilities.  It is an invitation to the Spirit to come in and sit with us all just a little while, to be present among us in a tangible way.  I have listened as each of our kids has brought me to tears as they poured love on their siblings, lifting up their achievements...and I am not talking about worldly accomplishments, but things like how they see God working in their siblings' lives, how they value a character quality, and how hard they know they have worked to jump over enormous obstacles.  

I will not share specifics about Matt and Olesya's ceremony, as the words quietly whispered that night are ours alone, and for their hearts to cherish.  But I will share that all four parents shed tears, as did some of our children as they spoke in appreciation and admiration.  And as we presented them with their key chains, we explained that the two keys signified that they will always have a home to return to, and that we are there for the other family's children as well and will always make space for them in our hearts.

On this Thanksgiving night, what I was most grateful for was the ability to go deep with our family, and to have friends who can do so unashamedly as well.  I am thankful for the warmth and love that comes from intimate relationships where fears can be openly shared, where our hearts are safe and cradled gently by one another, and where faith is palpable.  

I am also eternally grateful for family without shared DNA that is as real and true as any family with genetic ties.  And it is all memorable, isn't it?  The games, the crafts, the mess, the noise...the hugs, the quiet conversations, the "remember when's".  It is the makings of a happy holiday, and we were blessed.

1 comment:

Candi said...

We are all truly blessed! It was a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday. The crafts were a ton of fun, and brought us all together giggling and sharing. And our Manship/womanship ceremony for Matt and Olesya brought out the best in all of us as we shared from our hearts about these two remarkable new adults. It was truly a special and sacred time. We love having you all as our family! And we love all of you!