This year, my darling husband decided to institute a new tradition. Rather than simply having everyone state what they were thankful for, he had us all tell each other what why we were thankful for them personally. He asked the person being talked about to sit facing away from the group and not say anything, so there would be less awkwardness and no chance to argue or downplay the nice things being said about them. Instead we had to sit quietly and just accept how much everyone loved us. You would think we would have all jumped at the chance to have our egos stroked like this, but everyone was humbly reluctant and uncomfortable, especially MS’s old-school grandfather, who we made go first. He is not one to emote or take compliments easily, so he resisted this “navel-contemplating” exercise, but finally submitted when we told him he couldn’t have any of my freshly-baked-from-scratch pumpkin and apple pies until this was done.
We started telling Poppy why we were thankful for him, beginning with his daughter, my mother-in-law. MS originally wanted to limit the time spent on each person to three minutes, but by the time she was finished talking about how much she loved her father and why, three minutes had passed and the rest of us hadn’t even spoken. So it took awhile, but it was worth it and we all enjoyed talking about why we were thankful for everyone. It is such a habit for me, and everyone, I think, to be picky and critical of others, to complain and find fault. I found it very uplifting and healing to focus on only the good in each person and being able to let them know how much I love them and why was something that I haven’t previously been comfortable doing, especially with my in-laws. We were all touched by the nice things said about us, and I was surprised at how they all perceive me, it is different than how I see myself, as I said, I tend to be a little critical of everyone but the absolute hardest on myself.
We all enjoyed the pie we earned and then MS and I headed to dinner at a restaurant with my family. When we got home we told them the same thing-we have to do this before you get pie. After a few groans and protests, my family also agreed. We started with my grandmother, then my dad, mother, sister, then Michael-Scott, and finally me. I was in tears nearly the entire time. When my father spoke he told me how I was so special to him because I was the one that made him a father, and that being a dad was the best thing he’s done in his life and it is so amazing. I cried because I was touched by what he said, but also because I know being a parent is one of life’s highest callings, it’s all I want, and I’m still so terrified that I might never be a mother. Overall though, it was an amazing experience. I am so grateful to my husband for suggesting this, it made the holiday so much more meaningful to everyone and brought us all closer by allowing us to express how we felt and appreciate and share love for one another in a way that we rarely do. I have never felt so much love for and so much love from my family as I do now, and I hope that their experience was similarly uplifting.