Does the family, food, football or fiasco raise the tension and transform the thoughts, behavior and actions of me and just about everyone this time each year?

Just driving home from my last errand was surreal.  There were no cars backed up at the lights.  This is one of the good things.  Tens of thousands of vehicles off the road- but where did they go?

They are all in fact at Costco, or at least that is what Stacey told me today.  Every single one of them!  At least until Thursday at 8pm and then they will all be at Walmart, Meijer and Target.  Usually they are all in the same aisle or checkout as Stacey too.

Thanksgiving holds some of my favorite memories and I work hard each year to take the time to meditate on them.  I remember the days out of school and getting to see the joy this brings to my own kids now.  Paul, Kirk and I used to go out in the “court” as we called our cul de sac and play nerf football with Mike, Jeff, Matt Spletzer and Mike Hall.  Sometimes the girls like Lisa Siemasz would come down to keep us in line.  The smell piles of leaves that were burnt was all around in the crisp, Michigan air.

And then there was my Mom.  She had the double bad luck of being born on November 23rd and raising three boys.  This meant her birthday was always made second priority, she received no willing help from us and by the time it came to the last item on the big day- she burnt the rolls every time!  Who could blame her?  It’s a funny memory and Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without it.  I haven’t formally thanked Stacey yet, but she has picked up the habit of burning the rolls.  Ah, unexpected comfort.

The difference between raising three girls and growing up with two brothers is difficult to explain in an upbeat way.  The best word I can use today is “pioneering”.  This word has a nice Thanksgiving-like sound to it.  I am a pioneer of sorts on a new frontier! (At least it is new to me!)

Take Monday night for example.  Putting Carley to bed usually involves small talk and a little Q &A before saying prayers and turning in.  This night was different though.  She was so worked up.  I couldn’t console her.  She was literally overwhelmed and sobbing.  The reason?  She was apoplectic about how she was going to get her schoolwork done and clean her room for Thanksgiving!  How could I not understand this, she said!

Worse still she added, “the cousins are going to trash the basement Mom just cleaned and I want it to stay clean!” and “where is everyone going to sleep when Aunt Kim, Ella, Erin and Wyatt get here?”

Oh, the humanity!

When I “grew up” and started understanding a little more reality, my last stressful circumstance of having Thanksgiving left my conscience all at once.  I am not the only one that has this happen to them.  It happens to adult male from Detroit.  When we get to a certain age we realize the Lions will in fact let us down and it isn’t worth looking forward to, or complaining about after.

So bring it on I say!

This year we will host thirty relatives.  A great big DeRoche/Westby gathering that is sure to make many new memories of its own.  I haven’t seen my first cousins at Thanksgiving for probably more than ten years, and when I was a kid I couldn’t imagine having one without them.  Now, this year they are coming along with their kids and we will all have to experience our first holiday together without my little brother Kirk who we miss so much.

deroche westby thanksgiving

The crazy Westby, DeRoche, Knapp Families

So there will in fact be a whole lot of family and food.  There will be a football game on that will, eh… Speaking of fiascoes, I didn’t even understand the real meaning of the word.  A fiasco is an “utter failure”.

It turns out I have been throwing it around to loosely.  Thanksgiving is not an utter failure.  Even the things that don’t work out as planned large or small aren’t failures to me on this day either.  They are memories and for this I am grateful to One who gave us this life while we get to live it, and for those we get to share it with for as long as we do.