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:

A Letter to Three Mothers


This year, I have been extra aware of the mother figures in my life. Reason being, my mother is over 8,000 miles away by sea and by land. In addition to my mother, my two beautiful sisters, who really have this whole motherhood thing down, are also in Chicago. (Seriously, I know no cooler moms). Other than Debbie Elliott, who has been my surrogate mother while being in New Zealand, the three coolest women in my life have been the best, most accurate examples of what God’s love for others truly means. Continue reading “A Letter to Three Mothers”

Father’s Day: The Legacy We Hope For


Father’s day. It’s a ridiculous day every time I celebrate it…because it reminds me of how I should be living each of my days. It’s the age old critique of any holiday, “Why don’t we act this way all year round?” This especially comes up during Christmas. And yet, whenever Father’s day, or Mother’s Day rolls around, I feel the same way. I ask reflect on myself and say, “Why haven’t I been appreciating him/her every day? Why hasn’t that been a priority?”

I think it’s because we forget easily. I think that it becomes too hard, or too difficult, or perhaps it wouldn’t even be true. Let’s not forget those fathers that beat their kids, talk down to their wives, and are all around last on the “Father of the Year” podium. Those children wont be feeling the same amount of admiration that I have for my father. No. They will not.
201178_1940668633596_138621237_oI am blessed. Russ Peterson, married my mother, Sharon, and made me, so that I could grow up in a household that didn’t conform to the ‘Father’ my father saw when he was a child. My father made a choice, to be different. To be compassionate, yet firm. Honest, and maybe a little blunt, ha. To be loving, and to make sure he said it. To make sure, he said, “I love you.” I grew up knowing that. I grew up with a deeply Christ-centered man. A man with more layers than is seen, more emotions than are always expressed, and more “Father” than he was shown. He sacrificed for me and my sisters. So much sacrifice.I love my Father, because he points up and says, “That’s my example.” And I want to someday be able to do the same thing.
Happy Father’s Day today Dad. I love you so much, and it physically pains me to be away from you. I miss you so much. I hope you know that, and I hope you are surrounded today with everyone who loves you.

A Tribute to my Parents: Old Home Videos

Today I want to talk about old family videos. I’m talking about the kind of videos that make you embarrassed to watch after years of maturing. I’m not gonna lie, I was quite the weird child. From ages 0-3 I was the cuttest thing on the planet. Then it all went south as far as my cuteness goes, and my weirdness took full flight. I am not a shameful guy. I take pride that no one can blackmail me with anything because I will just laugh it off. And I have.

But…..ha. There is one home video that to this day is the most embarrassing home video to date involving my sister Nicole (who was 8 or 9 years old), my sister Robyn (4 or 5), and myself (6 or 7), and we are dancing in the living room. “Awwww cute.” No. I’m sorry no. Not even to the viewer, no. You probably wouldn’t stop laughing at how ridiculous we look….me in particular. I won’t say which song, but I was dancing to it….and I was dancing very weird. Some day I will come to grips with this video and get past the awkward dance sequence that only one other soul outside my immediate family has seen…my brother in law Randy.

I was coming home from a long day at the Dominicks Grocery Store, where I worked when I was 15. I open the door to a roar of laughter from the living room. I throw my shoes and coat off to quick see what they are laughing about. As I turn the corner, my stomach drops. It’s the video. THE Video. Worst of all, there is Randy, who wasn’t even family yet…he was just Nicole’s friend at the time. I was horrified. Naturally, I sat on the couch and just let the humiliation wash over me, wave after wave of tasteless dancing and 7-year-old stupidity. It lightened up when the video switched over to my birthday party at the FUnZOne. This thing was decked out with ball pits and cushion slides. McDonalds Playground on growth hormones. This video is Randy’s favorite to this day because it includes a scene of me getting out of the ball pit, sprinting around a corner, and smacking my head on a cushioned horizontal bar that lays me out flat on the ground. I then immediately get up and go into the tunnel like nothing ever happened. It was a scene straight out of America’s Funniest Home Videos.

And yet, the other day I was looking at some of those older home videos, and I had an interesting reaction. I felt closer to my family all of a sudden. For some reason, seeing my parents when they were younger brought perspective once again to how I see them as people now more than ever, rather than just parents. This shift started happening around 2006 when I would come back from college in Michigan to visit my parents and siblings. The parental roles began to dissolve and they began to take on more of a mentor role. They will always be my parents. Always. Russ will always be my Father, and Sharon will always be my Mother. And still, the relationship began to reform, as it should when a child becomes that age.

Hear me out. This is my point:

Over time, you begin to forget that your parents were once 18, 20, 35. That they too were once young and had fun. Watching videos of my parents on the beach, dancing with my newly born, older sister Nicole, was an emotional experience. The look of happiness in my parent’s eyes. Their first child, together. What happiness was in store for them. They were so young. Fast forward to a video of Robyn, no more than a year old, laying belly down on the living room floor playing with her toys. Nicole and I running around the house because our Dad was chasing us with the camera. Laughter fills the hallways. Love fills the house.

It’s a hard thing to explain to a reader the connection I’m talking about. Seeing those old videos connected me to a time removed from now. A timeless place, an eternal place. The feeling I felt was…Love. And the only thing I could think in that moment was this: This is a Love that I want someday, for my kids, for my family. I am so thankful for my parents and how they raised Nicole, Robyn and I. I am in their debt for the blanket of Love that they wrapped our home in day-in and day-out. Your example is what Nicole carries into her marriage and what Robyn carries into hers. This is a tribute to home videos, haha, and most importantly to Parents everywhere who stick it out for their children’s sake. For their future’s sake…so that one day….their children’s lives will become a blessing for their devotion to Love. Thanks Mom & Thanks Dad.