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.