Thanksgiving – A Time for Reflection, Happy Gatherings, and Laughter Here on the Suncoast

It is that time of year when we celebrate a holiday with a name that invokes big emotions. Thanksgiving gathers friends, families, fur babies, and acquaintances to celebrate everything we mean to each other. Sure, that might not be the holiday’s original intent, but it has become a time of reflection, laughter, sometimes tears, and most definitely a launching pad toward the end of one more year. In some cases, the lack of places to go, people to see, and thanks to giving can be a bit overwhelming to those in that situation. This year we are advocating for orphan Thanksgivings, laughter in the little things, and grace in the face of adversity as the theme to mark this holiday.

The pandemic caused many to be cut off from family and friends, and many continue alone due to losses or even lengthy health concerns. Unfortunately, some here on the Suncoast were then hit with food insecurities, housing crises, a hurricane in recent months that stole homes from some, and obstacles all the way around. I was one of those this year impacted by many big life events myself – the first time welcoming a grandchild, personal turmoil in bigger ways than I could have ever imagined, and finally, a move across the county to another state. Said move came just ahead of Ian, who would wreak havoc on my home left behind in Florida. Through it all, laughter in our family is the glue we chose to bind us together.

My daughter’s wedding was six weeks after I moved into our new home back in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, supply issues kept her from finishing her new barn and home where they had intended to wed, leaving them venue-less. Mom to the rescue and that new home just purchased wouldn’t even get furniture because we had a wedding to prep for first on the grounds.

A dilapidated barn and a host of other obstacles would not deter us – and then my daughter called exactly ten days before the wedding to tell us she and the groom were down with the flu. We laughed, there was some cussing, and finally, we came together to get it done without the bride’s vision and oversight from her sickbed. Yep, talk about stress worried that when she was well again, she would scream, cry or be disappointed in how we executed everything. It was a Halloween wedding, with silly games, inflatable costumes, and some crazy pictures you will never be able to unsee. The event might not have been most people’s definition of a perfect wedding – but it sure was ours, and the candids from that day will entertain us for years. For us, that is one of the big events we are giving thanks for this year and finding stories to share around our Thanksgiving table.


One of the things that our family does best does is not define family by those we are related to, no longer married to, or any other “traditional” labels. So ex-husbands, friends of the officiant (also the bride’s sister), and even some from the community were welcome to the above-detailed wedding to join in. Honestly, our best memories come from the moments in life that turn out not exactly how we had imagined. In our family, 2022 took major twists and turned in directions we swore never would happen. That means Thanksgiving will be a crazy, unique, new experience for us all this year in a new home, a new state, and even with new strangers, recent family additions, and friends surrounding us. With laughter, new people, and much perseverance, we celebrate this holiday with smiles and gratitude. Our hope is that everyone reading this might embrace the holiday in the same way.

Remember those that don’t have families and pick up the phone before dinner to extend a call. Volunteer to help in an organization to feed those without resources to enjoy this and other holidays. Keep in mind that all the planning in the world might not save your event from a mishap. Finally, if you are not doing in-person celebrations with all our loved ones – reach out via phone, in person, or online to let those you are thinking of today know it. The amazing thing is that the true spirit of this holiday is being thankful for taking a deep breath, one last big adventure, and just learning to laugh at all the curveballs life might have in store for you this holiday and into the future.

Happy Thanksgiving, Suncoast!

Photo courtesy of Deposit Photos

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