As the oldest of seven, most of my Thanksgiving family traditions involve fingerpaint and craft projects.
Hand-painted turkeys on construction paper, a kitchen full of dirty dishes, a dining room crowded with noise and the warm smell of food: these are all my Thanksgiving memories.
Our Thanksgiving meal, however, is far from the typical forks clinking and going around the table saying what we are grateful for. It is a peaceful dinner, just like every other meal at my home.
Thanksgiving is chaotic and noisy with at least one fight breaking out throughout the course of the meal. There is also at least one tearful face complaining about the green beans or being told to clean his or her plate.
It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if my brothers fought over the things that they are thankful for, or if my sister spills her food all over the carpet. More often than not, someone is upset with something else about something that really doesn’t matter. This is the way my family celebrates this holiday; these are my family “traditions.”
When I look back at the things that I am thankful for, it’s not the messes or the tears that define this holiday for me. I look at my blessings. I see my siblings’ faces blinking up at me as little newborns in my arms. I see their excited smiles and wide eyes every time I come back from school. I always love getting to hug and squeeze them again. Something else I think about is telling them silly stories at night, playing their crazy invented games or watching them fall asleep in my lap during a movie.
Yes, they make me want to pull my hair out. They make me want to cry. They make me want to throw my food all over the floor too and give up on trying to speak at the dinner table. That being said, I am so blessed to have each of them. We’re all a little messy at some point in our lives.
God loves us despite our messes. God loves us even as we spill all over the floor. He hands us a napkin and helps us clean up. This Thanksgiving, I am more grateful than ever for my family and our many chaotic traditions. I am more than grateful for every little angry, messy face. These are the people God has placed in my life, and I love them with all my heart.
I am even more thankful for the fact that, in spite of my own very messy life, God has still blessed me and will always continue to love me.