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Pajamas on Thanksgiving

By Catherine Arveseth

It will be a different Thanksgiving this year.

Today we will be wearing pajamas to our Thanksgiving dinner. In memory of Doug’s little brother, Steve.

Last Thanksgiving, Steve, Hillary, and their three kids spent a relaxed and happy day of playing games and eating turkey in their pjs, just the five of them. That night, Steve suddenly died in his sleep.

The news was shocking and rending, heavy and hard. Hard for all of us, but incomparably hard for his sweet family who were living in Pennsylvania with no extended family close by.

I remember Doug’s phone ringing, waking us in the early morning of Black Friday. What he heard on the line blackened the day to be sure. It was almost impossible to believe. Hours earlier Doug had been prepping our turkey, dough was rising, and I was writing my post for Segullah, talking about how we are happier when conscious of our treasures. Little did we know, that night one of our dearest treasures would be taken from us.

Steven’s family has since moved from Pennsylvania back to Utah to be closer to family and we are so excited they will be with us today. We are bringing all the traditional favorite dishes, but we will be bringing them in our pajamas. Because we love Steven.

We miss him. We miss his teasing, his laugh, his prank calls and practical jokes. We miss his mind, his heart, and the way he made us feel important.

It will be a different Thanksgiving for my Keddington family too. The first without my Mom.

While driving carpool earlier this week, I dropped darling Mia off in front of her house. Before I could drive on, her mom, Amy, jogged out, carrying a gorgeous pumpkin pie with homemade crust, settled perfectly in a glass dish. I rolled down the car window and she placed it in my hands. “This is your first Thanksgiving without your Mom. I thought someone needed to make you a pie.”

I strained for words and blinked back tears, so surprised by her kindness, unprepared to be loved like that. It felt like the pie had been sent straight from my Mom through Amy’s gentle hands. Hands that opened a window for heaven’s shafted light. We didn’t wait until Thanksgiving. We ate it that night.

Sweet Amy, I will never forget her thoughtfulness.

Wherever we are, whomever we are with today, can we love them? Can we set aside any hurt we’ve been feeling, any tendency to begrudge or be frustrated? I am not so naive to forget that all kinds of sorrow, contention, and dysfunction exist among those we are supposed to love best. But all too abruptly, we can lose the opportunity to make it right, mend the gap, repair the breach.

And if no repair is needed, we can hold our people close. A friend told me several months before my Mom passed away, “What seems ordinary today, will be gone tomorrow.” And it was.

Today I am breathing in the scent of my children’s hair and skin, the feel of my husband next to me in the kitchen, the simple joys of food on our table, orange berries ablaze on the firethorn bushes outside, and the comfort of pajamas.

Grateful for you, our readers. And for Jesus, who makes all mending possible. Who teaches us how to love.

Happy Thanksgiving.


About Catherine Arveseth

Catherine Arveseth is mother to five children, including two sets of twins. She is an exercise physiologist by profession, writer by passion, loves hiking with her family, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and the edge of an ocean. She and her husband, Doug, began their family in Virginia but now live in Salt Lake City, Utah. She blogs at wildnprecious.com.

7 thoughts on “Pajamas on Thanksgiving”

  1. Catharine,

    Somehow, your beautiful blog post reminds me of this poem by Pat Schneider. I hope you enjoy it (it helps me remember to be conscious of the good times) and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Lessons by Pat Schneider

    I have learned that life goes on, or doesn't.
    That days are measured out in tiny increments
    As a woman in a kitchen measures teaspoons of cinnamon, vanilla, or half a cup of sugar in a bowl.
    I have learned that moments are as precious as nutmeg,
    And it has occurred to me that busy interruptions are like tiny grain moths or mice.
    They nibble, pee and poop, or make their little worms and webs
    Until you have to throw out the good stuff with the bad.
    It took two deaths and coming close myself for me to learn
    That there is not an infinite supply of good things in the pantry.

  2. Thank you for your beautiful words, friend. I am so sorry for the losses your family has faced.

    Your writing and reflections through the past several years have continually helped me to seek out the treasures in my everyday life. You have helped me to remember to hold my loved ones in a sacred space of appreciation. Thank you so very much, Cath

  3. This is so beautiful Jackie. The nutmeg, so precious. And Pat is so right. Too easy to let the mice or moths blind us from what we really have in our kitchens. Thank you for always understanding what I'm trying to say, and for sharing your heart with mine. You are dear. Happy Holidays! xoxo

  4. Sweet Anne Marie, you seek out the treasures so well on your own. You have helped me over so many arduous miles to see light and love when I felt pressed down by darkness. Every grateful for your life and example. Happiest Holidays to you! I have a little something I'm sending your way this week. Love you!

  5. Oh! Catherine! This is beautiful. I have 3 friends with parents passing if not this season, very soon. The loss among them all is tangible. I haven't known what to do until now. I will make pie. (I don't know how to make it but I will learn & do.)

    You hug with these words. Much love. xoxo


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