My husband Steve and I have enjoyed 38 Thanksgivings together! This year, and every year before, we are thankful for our family. We’ve eaten turkey and shared prayers of thanksgiving with our grandparents, parents (blessed that three are still with us), aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, step-siblings, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, our kids, and now grandchildren.  That’s a lot of biology!

Some I don’t see often.  Some years we may see some family members only once a year or less, but we’re connected by the heritage of our families and our stories. Stories of everyone talking at once in Steve’s family!  Stories of my cousins and I making up plays for our parents to watch!  Stories of our kids and their cousins, as children, performing and having contests that are recorded on videotapes (and could be used against them)!  Stories of adventures with our kids!  We have different politics, different interests, different professions and passions, but we’re bonded by a memory of shared love.  Some days it’s hard to be graceful to that family member who thinks differently than I do.  Some days it feels like a lot of energy to be around all the different personalities.  

For the sake of my family and friends, I will say “peace be within you”.  
Psalm 122:8

For this family, I am thankful.

Over the course of the last 15 years, we have hosted young adults that lived with us for periods of time ranging from weekends to up to two years.  Some needed a place to live while transitioning to something different, some for a safe haven from turmoil, some for the simple fact that they needed a place to rest their head.  When someone lives with you and you share meals and everyday life together, you become family.  These relationships are special to me.  They changed my life and I always pray we changed theirs in some way.  They became family.  Connected forever!  

For this “acquired” family, I am thankful.

At the end of the summer in 2008, dear friends of ours moved from Muncie to Kansas.  Our families are connected in every way.  The kids are friends and parents are friends.  Their first Thanksgiving in Kansas, they invited us to come join them.  Our Thanksgiving tradition as a family had always been to go on an adventure for a few days.  Our extended families either got together on a weekend before or traveled also.  Accepting their invitation to go to Kansas was an easy “yes” for us!  A new adventure!  In the 12 years since we have only missed sharing Thanksgiving twice.  One year, my mom was in ICU during an extended illness, and this year we will not travel, due to Covid.  We are friends who have supported each other through raising 6 children, sickness, the death of parents, 3 weddings, a move for them to Missouri, lots of turkey and pecan pie, and other yummy foods.  We have had some crazy game nights that have caused uncontrolled laughter and shared many tears along the way.  

For our friends that have become family, I am thankful.

All families look different.  Some are biological and some are those special friends who share life with you.  Whatever your family looks like, I pray you can be thankful for the messy, beautiful connections that you have!

“The connections we make in the course of a life – maybe that’s what heaven is” – Fred Rogers

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