Well, it’s that time of the year again where I celebrate something that New Zealanders do not. Thanksgiving is such a huge part of my childhood. Growing up in my family, Thanksgiving consisted of giant family dinner’s, complete with all the relatives, smells of stuffing, green bean casserole, and turkey, catching up on a years worth of activity with aunts, uncles, and cousins, playing football in the backyard, kids running around the floor and into the basement, and either Detroit or Dallas playing on the TV. Also there is laughter…so much laughter. My family is a laughing family. We indulge in a good story, embellish for the chuckle, and deliver for the howl that resonates our walls. Usually we end the night with a board game, which my Dad does not like. Still, it’s a tradition to play one every year.
I love my family. This has to be said. I miss them like crazy and I know that they miss me too. They are the most caring, loving, thoughtful, hilarious, wacky, and joyful group of people that I know. If you’ve spent any time with a Peterson, Birkey, or Soraich, you would know. You would know because our family is one of a kind. They have supported me through thick and thicker, and I have been blessed beyond what I deserve when I was raised by Sharon and Russ Peterson. As a kid I always wanted a brother, but I now know the true gift in growing up with two sisters. For one, I have been exposed to the…rougher sides of living with women, haha. But in all seriousness, I am thankful that Robyn and Nicole have been there, no matter what, encouraging me through school, through moving, and through distance. I know it hasn’t been easy, but I love you so much. I am thankful for family that doesn’t change, regardless of the miles in-between.
Such solid memories were made in those years when we all got together to eat, talk, laugh, and reminisce. They were happy times which I take with me everywhere I go, no matter the distance. It’s in times like these that traditions hit me the hardest. I know that this year will be different, just like the last. There’s nothing I can really do about that, other than making new traditions. Life moves and turns and grows when we’re not looking. Don’t blink. Which is why I am thankful for the now. I’m thankful for my flatmates, friends, and mentors who are making it easier for me here, now.
Even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving where you are, don’t let that get in the way. I started a tradition with some friends a few years back called “Friendsgiving,” where we gather to give thanks as friends and enjoy a meal, conversation, and each other. Make it happen where you are and remind each other that you still have things in this life that are worth noting and worth saying, “I am thankful for you.”
If you feel like it, let me know what you are thankful for in the comments and why. Share it around and spread the cheer. And thanks to everyone giving. You are the backbone of altruism and the human spirit. I love you and thank you.
Here’s a typical Thanksgiving night in the Peterson household: