Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thankful 365 Days a Year

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I used to hate Thanksgiving.  And Christmas.
I'm not going to compete with you on this one or anything, just know that there were some really horrific holidays in there when I was about twelve through about twenty-five. Dickensian, even.

It wasn't until I met my husband and we started having kids that I lost my took Jerry another year or two after that. Instead of staying focused on negative history and crap I brilliantly started thinking Hey, let's make it fun for our family! and then I set out to do that.

My mother-in-law JoAnn really owns the holidays! She goes out of her way to make them wonderful and playful for her ten grandkids. Every year she has unique ideas of what to do special with the kids. One year JoAnn and the kids went into a private room and wrote a play with a song that they then put on for us!  LOL
You have not seen a Spectacular Holiday Skit if it doesn't include at least one martial arts Power Ranger, Wendy from Peter Pan, and one adorable holiday elf.

So Jerry and I figured it out...that we could create our own holidays, holidays that our kids will look forward to when they are grown ups instead of want to avoid, as we did! So everything we do is very family-focused and even though the kids are older they still love it. It might seem obvious, but I really had to figure that one out.

All of the kids, 2007
When Thanksgiving was a huge Christian Fest of nauseating, fake Thanks giving, I couldn't tolerate it. I have this thing about authenticity, being authentic, and I couldn't get past how false it all felt. My family was a bit of a nightmare, so any sort of celebrating was kind of put on. Once Jer and I moved ourselves into our own healthy family and started making our holidays real, we all started enjoying them. You know, having the kids be so happy helps!

So maybe I'm not giving credit where credit is due. Elizabeth and John so look forward to the holidays. They love the games and the people and the festive feel and the specialness of everything.  Maybe it is just as I started seeing the holidays through their eyes that I really started loving them and looking forward to them.  Heck, they brought back the FUN of decorating the Christmas tree.  I admit that Jer and I have to work our way into the festiveness of it all, but we eventually get there.
Also our extended family really stepped up to the plate and joined into the fun whenever they could.  I think that having kids in the family injected some goodwill into the mix.

My step-daughter Jessica and Grandma
Joanne with Elizabeth
Thanksgiving itself isn't a big deal for our family, though we do love creating family traditions. We have started having tacos for Thanksgiving. This makes everyone laugh and doesn't create that tryptophan downer of an afternoon. Throughout the year we often take a moment before dinner to give thanks and appreciate things in our lives, and on Thanksgiving we just make it a bit more elaborate by having each person speak directly to each other person at the table to thank them for something personal. You know, sometimes everyone teases me for this one, but they still do it.

And so, in the spirit of the holiday of Thanksgiving, and even though I am thankful 365 days a year, I offer these thoughts of THANKS and GRATITUDE.
  1. I'm not clever or surprising so I'll just say it:  I am SO THANKFUL to my husband for so many things, but mostly for being my best best friend.
  2. To Elizabeth I am thankful for her late night chats with me when I feel like we connect or reconnect as the case may be. It is during these times that I feel so loved.
  3. To John John I am thankful for his very personal hugs and words of love through out the day. His way of moving through the world give me hope for mankind.                                                                                                                                                                                        
  4. To my Mom I am always thankful for every single effort she makes to make our relationship a good one. I know that she struggles with me being an atheist. I also know that she makes every possible effort to respect my choices and my lifestyle.
  5. To my sister Linda I am so thankful for her friendship and for staying in my life when others left it or when I left them. It leaves her in the middle and she handles it with grace.
  6. To my bestest of friends, of whom I am so fortunate to have several, I remember a time when I thought I would never connect with another woman because I was damaged inside or something. My friends have gently supported me, have laughed with me, have talked long into the dark, and have been the sisters I have always wanted.                                                                    
  7. I am thankful beyond all expectations for the time that we have gotten to spend here in this beautiful country, in this beautiful city. It has changed us. My kids have been here in Brisbane during their teen years! They each have experienced a metamorphosis of sorts and I will always think of this time in Australia as a time when each of them made great strides towards becoming more honest versions of themselves.                                                                                                    
  8. For the fact that our family is fortunate enough to be able to enjoy holidays and travel while being here in Australia, I am so thankful.  Jerry's profession/skills make it possible for our family to get a bit extravagant when it has come to making the most of our time here. We have been to places and done things that most people only dream of; we know what a gift that is.
  9. I am truly thankful for a freethinking mind.
  10. I am truly thankful for the unschool lifestyle that we have chosen. We do have lessons and projects, so we are not hardcore unschoolers, but our natural learning lifestyle is something that I will always look back on as the perfect choice for our family.
I recently was asked by a Christian to whom I am thankful for the good things in my life.  WHO do I thank?
I replied that I am thankful to the people in my life who bring such goodness. I also told both he and his daughter that I can be full of gratitude for those very things that are good. No middle man necessary.

I know we don't really do anything super unique or special. And that's OK.
What is important is that we do it together.

Just a quick reminder to visitors and readers, you can also find my writing on:

If you enjoyed this post you might also read: 

Or you might enjoy:  Gratitude   (again, apparently!) 
Or this one:  A Little Home Made Love


  1. I also love creating traditions for our family, though I find mine now tend to be very influenced by childhood traditions and my happy memories. I like your answer about being thankful to people in your life and that no middle man is necessary! I'm also really pleased for you all to have this adventure in Australia, we're thinking of returning to Europe for a short stint when my children are teenagers as we'd love to expose them to living overseas :)

    1. My husband and I thought about taking the kids to Europe next, maybe a year or so...but the kids said they would love to be home for awhile.

      But EUROPE. Would be NICE!

  2. Yes Karen! Come to the UK! This was a lovely read. Eugenia x

  3. Karen,just reading your posts and looking at your pictures I can see a transformation in your family. It's cool that you all have such an awesome opportunity to be down under right now. We have the opposite situation right now with Steve's new job, although it is a transformational shift too. Growth happens! I look forward to seeing you the next time you are back in STL.

  4. Karen,just reading your posts and looking at your pictures I can see a transformation in your family. It's cool that you all have such an awesome opportunity to be down under right now. We have the opposite situation right now with Steve's new job, although it is a transformational shift too. Growth happens! I look forward to seeing you the next time you are back in STL.

  5. I'm not a Christmas fan either because of all the traffic, and buying gifts stresses me out. Thanksgiving is nice, however, because it's the one American holiday that isn't materialistic (that and 4th of July).


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