This post is dedicated to my brother, Benjamin, who graciously engages my clumsy attempts at pursuit, and who is always willing to talk about the deep stuff.
Would you laugh at me if I told you I cried reading an autoreply email today? I had signed a petition supporting Just Mayo (I’ll spare you the exciting details), and I got a confirmation email from the petition platform’s founder, Ben Rattray. He told me that by signing the petition, I had joined a community of 75 million people who have also used this social change platform. And then he said he couldn’t wait to see the change I create. And I choked back the tears; the email sounded so sincere that for a split second, I believed that Mr. Rattray was speaking just to me and that I had something important—something life-changing—to do, and he believed in me! Just for a split second.
But that revealed my heart: I need people to know me and love me and cheer me on.
And so do you.I am noticing the holidays so far this year are more exciting than I’ve ever experienced. My son is 2 now, and he is understanding just enough to make the excitement level in our house so contagious and infectious that I can’t remember how I ever celebrated with less joy. Thanksgiving was so fun that I left the spoils until this morning just so I could see them first thing and smile at the evidence of our night to remember. We shared Thanksgiving Day with three families we love dearly. Our relationship with each family is totally different, but it didn’t matter—we were all there because we love each other and wanted to share a special day with people who know us and love us and cheer us on. And in opening our home to them, we hoped to communicate that we want to know them and love them and cheer them on, too.
Picking the turkey late that night took me back to picking the turkey last year. I think I picked three turkeys, which provided a lot of thinking, praying, talk time. We had spent the day with Kara and her family and friends, and Kara was upstairs resting with my baby boy. People were scattered, talking and laughing quietly while the kids played happily in the basement. I tried to shoo Kara’s mom out of the kitchen so she could get a break. And I rolled up my sleeves and started picking, picking, picking.
Jason wandered in, eager to help clean up after the massive feast. We chatted. I can’t tell you much about our conversation, but I can tell you he asked me what it was like for me to navigate grief through the holidays—how did I handle my parents’ absence?My back was to him, so he couldn’t see the tears swell up and spill onto the carcasses in front of me.
I didn’t cry because I missed my parents. I cried because my friend was reaching out to me in the midst of his own grief over the shattering news of his wife’s cancer. He was offering to know and safeguard a piece of my heart. And we both knew that at some point, though hopefully not for a very long time, he will be wondering how he himself will navigate grief through the holidays.That is a Thanksgiving memory I will always treasure, a moment in time where I felt known and loved and supported and safe. And that is the kind of intentionality that I want to have with the people in my life. Especially over the holiday season when so many emotions arise and when so many of us are extra fragile.How can I pursue, engage, protect, and delight others? How can I love well? How can I know, love, and cheer?