A Home for the Holidays

Nov 29, 2017 by

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It was our second Thanksgiving in Reno. I had to work the day after and my husband got scheduled for the weekend, so we couldn’t go home to celebrate with my family or his in the Bay Area. Before we had a chance to feel like we were starring in an emotionally-manipulative movie about a family that would learn to be thankful just to have each other, a sweet couple from church invited us to their Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure I brought the pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins.

Never before had I celebrated a holiday with friends instead of family. I missed being with my sisters and parents, and they missed the muffins. (I’m sure they missed us too.) I still remember it as a beautiful Thanksgiving. We had those wonderful friends, who were beginning to feel like family, to celebrate with. Instead of leaving us to figure out our own holiday plans, they included us in theirs. For the first time we understood what it felt like to be separated from family on a day when, according to the Butter Ball commercials, everyone in America would be gathering around a gigantic dining room table. We experienced how it felt to not have to make the best of a lonely holiday after all—to be invited—to feel like part of a family even when we couldn’t be with ours.

Flash forward a dozen years. This time, Christian had to work the day after Thanksgiving. My husband was no longer in the family picture. Once again, going to the Bay Area for the holiday was not an option. And once again friends saved us from starring in a pitiful holiday drama. (A story that wouldn’t even include the dad who works at a grocery store and comes home with ingredients for making Thanksgiving dinner at the very last minute, which of course requires a harrowing drive across town in a blizzard after the store is held up by a homeless man who turns out to have a sad story of his own that warrants an invitation to Thanksgiving.)

You guessed it: I brought the muffins. I also brought mashed sweet potatoes. That year, I was reminded that when my friend Susan said, “We love to eat!” she was not talking brown rice stuffing with fat-free gravy and a healthy veggie medley tossed in olive oil. I had never seen so much yummy food on one counter, and those were only the appetizers. That was also the year when I understood what people meant when they said, “I ate so much that I could hardly move.” But most importantly, God used that Thanksgiving to remind me that, no matter what happened now that we no longer had a dad in the picture, we would always have a family.

Last week, we took this picture on Thanksgiving. My sister Sherry hosted. Most of these people are family (including in-laws), but a few are not. We invited them because we love them too much to leave them to make the best of a lonely holiday. We never want anyone to feel like they don’t have a place to go. Most of our friends feel like family anyway.

If the day ever comes when I have my own house again, I pray that I will remember to be as welcoming as others have been to me.

So, when has someone rescued you from spending a holiday alone? Now that Christmas is on its way (didn’t we just celebrate Christmas two weeks ago?), who might need a reminder that they will always have a place to go?

When has someone rescued you from spending a holiday alone? Click To Tweet

This was actually taken as my sister Kristy’s house last Thanksgiving.

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5 Comments

  1. The past four Thanksgivings have been painfully lonely. So many deaths in the family left us all greiving and everyone spread out in different states now. We spent one Thansgiving at a small cafe in the Netherlands with a group of expats none of whome knew each other, the next year we had dinner at the Nugget Casino. The following year we had dinner at a pot luck in an RV resort where we didn’t know anyone and this year, we went to a party with friends in the morning but did not do anything for dinner. We just could not cook a big dinner where we were, so we have been finding a new norrm. All the while longing for the family gatherings we use to have. Each year I have dreaded the lonliness and longing for family bit each year the Lord has given me something special to treasure. So, actually, it has been the Lord who has rescued me from lonely Thanksgivings.

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Cheri, I am so sorry for all the loss you’ve experienced! New normals are beyond painful. It is beautiful to see how you’ve recognized God’s goodness even on lonely holidays, and how He rescued you in creative ways. He is so amazing! I miss you, dear friend.

      • It is interesting how just as you begin to feel sorry for yourself and think you have lost more than anyone on the face of the Earth, you end up meeting someone who has suffered a greater loss than you and you end up praying for and ministering to them. It is difficult at this point to feel sory for yourself. I have learned that when I look at things from God’s perspective, with His plan and purpose in mind, then none of these things truly matter. This is the place where greater joy is found. I do miss you too, Jeanette!! Someday, we will sit together and enjoy each other’s company, I just know it.

  2. I didn’t get to see my kids for Thanksgiving, but some cousins invited me to their home so I had a good holiday anyway.

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