We had flights booked out in advance.
Two round trip tickets that would drop us off in the land of back porch pasture views and reluctantly bring us home to ATL traffic and the day to day sound of early morning alarms.
They were booked. Ready. Waiting.
All we had to do was don our masks and get to the airport.
Only, two days beforehand we cancelled those two graciously purchased tickets.
Blame it on what you will, but we ultimately decided that with a Christmas drive right around the corner, we’d make the difficult and heartbreaking call to not go home for Thanksgiving.
No cooking in my home kitchen, no playing with my beloved niece and nephew, no slow days and full glasses.
It wasn’t an easy decision, and it carried with it emotions from all walks of life. Perhaps it wasn’t even the right decision; with so many swirling opinions and facts and he said/she said out there -it really is hard to say.
But alas. Thursday morning we awoke in our own headboard-less, queen-sized bed in small town Georgia.
Last year I was waking up early; energized by adrenaline and fueled with mimosas to cook and host my first ever Thanksgiving for the in-laws.
This year I woke up at a late 7:30am, moved slowly and made some coffee without an obligatory green apron. Eventually, I would wake up the husband so that we could venture up north for a day out in nature.
No big meals, no long hours of dirty dishes and hot ovens. No crowded table in an almost too-small apartment.
Simply a crisp and sunny day with a long drive on a winding road. A hiking trail that at times mimicked the bends of the road and left us embarrassingly out of breath. A pup that sniffed every tree, leaf, rock, and stick on his first ever hike, and a view spotted with the hints of a fall palette that made it worth every drop of sweat.
The husband and I have always processed better when walking side by side. The dreams, and fears, and vision, and thoughts seem to flow out with more ease and energy as our feet slowly find the rhythm of lockstep hearts.
2020 has been one worth reflecting on. Full of everything from job losses to quarantines to mask-ne and new jobs, social injustice, heartbreak, frustration, and deeply necessary conversation.
This year was one for the books, and it’s a chapter not too many of us want to reread anytime soon. We have felt pain, been faced with trials, found discomfort when looking in the mirror and perhaps at our country, and many of us have felt hopelessness, loneliness, and fear.
All of these things are true. Most of them I have felt myself.
In so many ways, my life didn’t change in 2020. I kept the same job, stayed introverted when I got off work, and repeated my routine morning after morning. I never missed work, I never had to quarantine, and up until thanksgiving, I didn’t really have to make too many hard decisions about traveling during a global pandemic.
I am very blessed in that realization, and grateful that in so many ways we were spared the hardships that many of my neighbors felt.
What I am most thankful for however, is not the consistency that remained in a world turned upside down. My gratitude comes from every bit of challenge and rude awakening and heartbreaking fight I had to encounter. It has come from being forced into the awareness that I no longer want to be a woman with no opinion solely because she hasn’t made the time to form one.
In a year of chaos and confusion, of division amongst almost every family, denomination, and political party; I have realized that the Voice I treasure the most – is the one I have found most lost in the noise.
I have felt the tension and anxiety in my mind, my heart, and my spirit as I seek to find Truth above all else. I have felt the doubt rise up as I put to voice the thoughts in my head that often times challenge the perspective I’ve always had. I have felt the pain of growth that leaves you feeling awkward in high water jeans that you’ve most definitely outgrown – but can’t toss out because they’re simultaneously perfectly broken in.
It’s hard to throw away comfort.
But if there’s anything the women in my life have spoken over each other it’s this:
We can do hard things.
You and me.
We can change and overcome and grow and gain new perspective and understanding. We can have opinions and lively conversations and then we can change our opinions and still engage in lively conversation.
We can see people, we can learn and utilize the gift of empathy, we can grieve with those who grieve, and also rejoice with those who rejoice. We can lay down comparison. We can use our voice and speak our mind and take a stand against things that are not of this world.
Perhaps we can even gain vision of a Kingdom already here.
This year. It has been what it has been and 2021 holds no promises or guarantees.
The only thing we can control is that person we see in the mirror. The one we never see fully, or probably purely. The one with the flaws and scars. The one who maybe speaks too passionately or out of turn, or comes across in a different way than intended. The one who desperately wants to seek understanding, and ask all the questions, and challenge the things that don’t make sense. The one that wants hear the Voice that speaks her name above all else.
The only thing we control is ourselves.
If this year has taught me anything it is that I want to be a woman who forms an opinion. An opinion that kindness surpasses policy. An opinion that I can be both seeking, wrong, and right – sometimes all in the same breath. An opinion that hope is worth holding on to, and that the reward of fighting for people far outweighs the cost of fighting with people.
This Thanksgiving didn’t include a Greenberg turkey or my mom’s mashed potatoes that usually get eaten between the two of us. It didn’t included the two Tollhouse pies my brother always convinces me to make or sliding my leftover crust to my Papaw.
It didn’t include so many things that I love and cherish deeply. Rather, with each step on a leaf-covered trail, it left me more grateful for the year that we have lived, and more sure of the life that is still yet to come.
Happy Thursday friends.