Once upon a time, in a cozy little house with toys strewn across the living room and the sweet sound of giggles echoing in the air, there lived a new mom. I was so excited to host my first Thanksgiving as a new mom. Soli was not even walking. My Brother and his wife, who live in Atlanta, GA, have a son 9 months older than Soli and they are coming. My Mom and her husband, who lived in Las Vegas, NV AND my Dad, who lives in Miami, FL (the first time since my wedding that they would all be together). My heart was filled with excitement and trepidation, all I wanted this holiday to be nothing short of perfect, especially for Soli.
As the days leading up to Thanksgiving approached, I found myself caught in a whirlwind of emotions. The shopping list seemed to be never-ending. While I had decided on my recipes, I questioned how I was going to pull it all off for so many people in my small home when it felt like the walls were closing in because of all the toys and “stuff” that comes with a baby. All I wanted was to create the ideal Thanksgiving experience for my family, something they would cherish forever. That they would look forward to doing again.
If you have heard me talk about my family, it is crazy. Not the special crazy that makes for a sweet PG movie during the holiday season on Hallmark. More of a PG-13, possibly rated R movie that would be great on some real life show. There were pep talks and tears and big questions as to why I insisted on doing this and making everyone come together but for some reason I felt it was important to start this tradition now, while Soli was young. Make sure the Grandparents could be in the same room and not obliterate each other. But amidst all the planning and preparations, something beautiful happened. My baby, a wide-eyed wonder of a toddler, watched everything. She observed with great interest and fascination, the attention from her Grandparents. Seeing people around us who loved us unconditionally. It was a reminder of what truly mattered on this special day – the love, warmth, and togetherness that Thanksgiving represents.
As Thanksgiving morning came, I was up before the sun (which is normal if you know me). I was a dynamo in the kitchen, creating dishes to cover the food spectrum for vegans to carnivores. The aroma of roasting turkey, freshly baked bread pudding, and simmering gravy filled the air. Dinner was served outdoors because it was a warm and lovely California Thanksgiving.
Family gatherings are not always easy, especially when they have not occurred in 15 years so I held my breath as everyone began to arrive. Almost instantly the snarky comments started.
At first, I felt a pang of disappointment, a sense of a "perfect" Thanksgiving unraveling before my eyes. But then, I looked at Soli, who was a picture of pure joy, curiosity, and wonder. She was laughing and grabbing her grandparents. She was playing with her cousin. My little one was making precious memories, ones that would be recounted with laughter in years to come.
I realized that what truly made this Thanksgiving perfect was not the hallmark-esq gathering where everyone gets along and the evening ends with a group hug and plans for the next family event. It was the laughter of my child, my daughter being surrounded by people who love her, and the warmth of their presence. In the midst of the chaos and the imperfections, I found the beauty in the day. Thanksgiving wasn't about striving for an unattainable perfection but about celebrating the imperfect moments that make life rich and beautiful.
As the day continued, the laughter and love shared around the table eclipsed any missteps. Fun memories of my and my brother’s childhood brought out the big belly laughs. The family ended up swimming because we live in the most hospitable climate.
So, to all the new moms or moms of young kids planning their first Thanksgiving holiday hosting, remember this: perfection is overrated, and it's the imperfections that make life truly beautiful. Cherish the laughter, embrace the chaos, and be thankful for the love that fills your home. Because in the end, the imperfectly perfect Thanksgiving is the one that your child will remember with the fondest of smiles.