A number of years ago, our family gathered to celebrate the holiday around our table that, with all of its leaves in place, was too large for the dining space in our kitchen. Those sitting in chairs backed up to the walls barely had room to allow their tummies to expand. Our son was newly married at the time so our numbers had increased by three, his wife, Wendy, and the two little girls who had become part of our lives. Also present was Wendy’s sister, Heather, who was the link that brought Chris and Wendy together. She was our daughter Kate’s best friend. In addition to these were my husband’s brother, Uncle Rich, daughers Becky, Kate and Heidi and Bernie and I.
The older of Wendy’s girls, Alicia, came excited to have planned an activity for the family to do at the dinner table. Always wanting to encourage the creativity of children in our midst, we all agreed to do whatever it was she thought we should do. She said, “Each of us should tell each other person what we are thankful for about them. And we do it to one person at a time.” Delightful idea, we all agreed. So we started.
The activity turned out to be amazingly tender and powerful. One person at a time was showered with praise and gratitude from each other person at the table. It was surprising that so few ideas were repeated. There was so much to say. Some told stories, “I remember the time you and I…” Some named characteristics like a sense of humor, kindness, or wise thoughts about life. Stories or characteristics that might be construed as negative were shared in such creatively positive ways that they came across as compliments. It didn’t take long before tears began to flow. What an amazing thing it is to feel so much love coming at you at one time.
I will never forget that Thanksgiving. In later years we tried to recreate it but it never worked as it did that night. I’ d like to remind my family about that event, to recall that moment of love and appreciation for one another. And I’d like to suggest to those of you who read my blog the idea of doing such an activity with your family as you gather around the table this week. It may make for a particularly long sit at the table, but one would want such a blessing to linger.