A Normal Thanksgiving Story: Calm Among The Chaos

Ashley Lynne

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So, yesterday my boyfriend, Jack, and I were invited to Thanksgiving dinner at his mother's house. It's a 40-minute drive but worth it. We took our dog Pyra with us as the family adores her and she's a spoiled puppy.

Once there, we saw that most of the family members were not coming. Just Jack's mother and his nieces and nephew that live with her along with his sister. We played catch up with the family while Pyra was confronted with her mortal enemy. An old grumpy rat-dog named Cheech with one tooth and a lot of pent up anger.

The house smelled of roasted turkey and the sweet aroma of candied yams and broccoli cheddar casserole. The girls were visiting the house next door where one of nieces boyfriend was having their own Thanksgiving celebration.

The girls came back just in time for the feast. We all grabbed our plates and sat down. Jack's mother said a prayer and we all dug in. Everything was silent except for the clanking of silverware on the white plates.

That's how you know the food was delicious. The silence of a full mouth.

At this point, you may be wondering if we were wearing masks or if we were sitting six feet apart from each other. No, we weren't. For the first time in the entire year, we a moment of normalcy at the table. That's what made this Thanksgiving so special. It was normal.

This whole year has been a cluster storm of violence, sickness, and changes in social norms. Lockdown during Mother's Day made it impossible for anyone to celebrate the Spring holidays. People walking around tense and fearful about what's to come. We needed this day to take our minds off of everything going on.

This moment, this normal moment, gave me relief from the isolation and loneliness I have felt this entire time. Being able to fellowship with people I care about and share that space, really put my mind in a peaceful place.

I'm sure Pyra enjoyed people dropping bits of gravy covered turkey and extra attention. Jack loved having a day off from carrying sheets of drywall over his head. I just enjoyed not having to cook that day.

This time made me think of my family and the close bonds that I have in my life. It really put in perspective how blessed I am despite everything that has happened. I'm surrounded by loving people, we are doing okay financially, and my mom in Alabama was enjoying her Thanksgiving with her sister and family.

After dinner, the food was cleared and the long folding table was put back in storage. Then, my Facebook messenger rang. It was my father's side of the family. Ever since my father passed away in 2014, I haven't stayed in touch with my aunts or uncle.

So, I answered.

What happened next was the clamor of happy family members laughing, waving, and showing off the new babies I haven't met yet. It felt good to know that they still loved me and missed me. Despite not connecting with them as much as I need to.

I made a promise to them that I would let them know when I was in town in December. The tricky part is to stay safe and take extra precautions when traveling around Christmas time.

After logging off, I told Susan in a bit of excitement about my father's family. We ended up sitting together at the kitchen table and spending a good amount of time together. Which was a first for both of us.

I've been dating Jack for five years and I have always been a bit shy around most of the family. But today was different. Susan and I had a really pleasant conversation about our ancestry and family ties. Sharing generational stories and being closer than usual.

After packing up to-go, boxes with turkey and pies we said our goodbyes. The drive home down the I-20 was serene. Jack lying down with the seat pulled back. Little Pyra in his lap napping contently and full of table scraps. Heat turned on and the galaxy of red tail lights ahead of us.

Thanksgiving didn't have much meaning to me until now. A reminder that during this time, the bonds we have with each other are important. We often take for granted the calm, peaceful moments among the calamity of daily life.

2020 has given a lot of people a chance to slow down and live in the present. It can be soul-crushing not knowing what the future holds. All we really have is the present.

No matter what happens, I can look back on this day with happiness. A very normal day in an era of confusion and uncertainty.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Stay safe and enjoy the holidays!

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A writer, artist, and spiritualist just making a way for myself.

Atlanta, GA
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