This Thanksgiving morning I woke up in a house that is starting to feel like my home. To my husband, it's his childhood home - his parents' house. To my daughter, it's Grammy & PopPi's house - where she even has her own room. To me, it's complicated.
Although I don't love the term "in-law", I love the two people who own this house dearly. They made me feel, from the first moment I met them, like part of the club; and then, shortly after that - in a church pew where my future mother-in-law and I cried tears of joy and held hands - like part of the family. Or, more accurately, like a familiar extension of my own.
Growing up, every year for as long as I can remember, one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions was making (and eating many!) spinach balls. Though the name is perhaps less than mouth-watering, this simple 5-ingredient appetizer always garnered a delicious center of attention... and I usually ate way too many of them - fresh out of the oven, chewing with my mouth slightly open to let the cool air combat the steaming, bubbling spinach and cheese. And when I left home for college, I looked forward to coming back for this and the many other blessings Thanksgiving offered. And when I graduated college and moved to New York, I made these treats for friends and family there - always to the pleasant surprise of my fellow eaters, most of whom immediately asked how to make them. Never a year without them, as they reminded me of my parents and my grandparents and made me feel at home no matter where I was.
Late last night, I realized that this year there will be no spinach balls. And I realized it as, almost, an afterthought. It didn't immediately upset me by any means, it was just more of a hiccup in my brain while climbing into bed. But it made me think of traditions. And family. And how unexpectedly beautiful and heart-wrenching life can sometimes be.
This Thanksgiving morning I woke up in a house that is starting to feel like my home. And it doesn't mean that I don't miss my own childhood home, my own parents, only that I am lucky enough - blessed enough - to have more than one home. It's where the heart is, right? I wonder sometimes if my heart will explode with all the love that is poured into and out of it.
My mother and father - my whole family, in fact - gave me a love that is both as deep as an ocean and as free as the air. They taught me how to love fully, openly, with abandon. And the same breath that says, "I wish I was at home with them today" also says, "I am at home." And that is a strange and wonderful and heart-wrenchingly beautiful breath. And I am ever so thankful for it.