A Swords Thanksgiving

The home base tree fell down in treacherous winds last Sunday. Shortly after Sue and I completed the menu and made our master shopping list, a thunderous crack rang out from behind the house. The tree that served as home base for countless kickball games and home run derbies poked some holes through the house before crashing to the ground. No one was hurt. Trees continued to bend under the howling wind. As we marched around the yard surveying the damage with our neighbors, I thought about how many holiday memories that tree created for us.

This time last year I worked with a few of my teammates to bring Thanksgiving to my Turkish team. We chopped, sliced, diced, rolled, and mashed our traditional meal into existence in an afternoon of laughter. It was difficult to be away from home, yet I appreciated the adventure I was living. Last season allowed me to play against tough competitors, form strong friendships with people from across the globe, and visit breath-taking historical sites when time allowed. The memories I have made abroad shape me, and allow me to bring a piece of the world back to my family when I do get to see them.

This year I was present for all of it: planning the meal, making the shopping list, picking up the boys from the airport, losing the shopping list, fixing the chandelier…the mad dash to the dinner is my favorite part of any holiday. The eve of Thanksgiving is often a baking marathon in our house. Clouds of flour float above our heads as we glide from fridge to counter to oven, dancing around each other. We pinch pie crusts, whip egg whites, and melt chocolate, until our eyes grow too tired to read the recipes. Our menus are often ambitious, but we love the opportunity to make the day special. These midnight baking sessions leave us more time for kickball games and ping pong tournaments on the big day.

Each year has its own story. The year we played four-square in the dark…the year we learned to double dutch…the year home base fell down. This year my brother Russell was away for the holiday as he continues his Peace Corps service. Next year it may be another one of us who cannot make it home. Through it all, the memories and traditions keep us connected while we are apart. The new adventures grant us opportunities to grow and bond us more closely together. I am incredibly thankful to be home with my family this holiday season, and I look forward to the next time we all get to use home base together again.