What I Was Most Grateful For This Thanksgiving

I've always loved thanksgiving because I love to eat and my family makes amazing Thanksgiving food! Oh my mother's brined turkey and homemade gravy, my sister-in-law's green bean casserole and pecan pie. It's making my mouth water all over again! I also love the simplicity of it - you gather your loved ones together and enjoy just being with them and EATING! Oftentimes we go around the table and talk about what we are most grateful for. My darling little nephew said how grateful he was for his toys. My sister-in-law talked about how grateful she was for a good brain. SO TRUE! At my family's go-around, something happened that halted the conversation so I never got to say what I was grateful for. More than anything this year, I feel so much gratitude for the people in my life, especially my family. Honestly, I have really lucked out in the people department - my parents are amazing, I adore my brother (and boy did I get lucky with the gal he married - we are cut from the same mold! I love the Heidi!!), my husband and his family and I was blessed to graduate from high school with the most amazing friends.

In particular this year, I have been having regular gratitude moments for my father. My Dad, who has always been Superman to me, had a stroke in September. I was at home getting ready to head out of town when I returned a call to my brother who was expecting his wife to go in to labor at any moment - I thought for sure that the moment had come. Instead, he asked me if anyone had called me yet. Confused, I said no. He said that he just got a call from our neighbor saying that our Dad was in an ambulance on his way to the hospital, possibly having had a stroke. It was a very odd moment because I thought, "What? He can't have a stroke. He's Superman and Superman doesn't have strokes. And who in the world would I go to for some clear, sound advice when I need it?" He has always been my go-to guy, even when he didn't know it (and even when I didn't know it for that matter). My brother was just leaving to go meet him at the hospital, my husband was mid-flight and unavailable and my mom was at a movie with her girlfriends and unreachable. The first and pretty much only thing I could think of to do was pray. I knelt down in my living room and just started to pray.

Pray for this amazing man that I am so blessed to have for my father. We didn't really quite understand each other (well, I was probably the confusing one growing-up) while I was young but became close after I went to college and got married. He always makes me laugh and always helps me to find light in dark situations. He knows all the answers and there’s nothing he can’t do. When I’m not quite sure how to handle a problem or if I need advice about life, a tricky situation or parenting, he's the person I beseech for wisdom.

Life has a funny way of turning around on you in that I grew up trying so hard to be different from my parents (which is so dumb, but I guess its part of being a kid and figuring things out) in every aspect and any time they did try to get me to do things their way I pushed back. I hated to bike because they loved it. I hated the outdoors because they loved it (at least I pretended to hate it). I would try to side on the democratic side of things because they were conservatives and I was a major pill when I would have to do things their way (family pictures, vacations). Amazingly, they just left me to my sulky self and didn’t let me rain on their parade – they always had fun and somehow they were still glad I was around. And the funny thing was that even though I was putting on this big show, I was always secretly watching and taking in everything they said and did.

He would put his foot down when he needed to, but the consequences always fell in line with the crime. He would always end his rebukes with a joke like, “If you do what I say I won’t have to send you to military school.” When I sought help as divorce looked my in the eyes, he never once told me what to do but would pose questions for me, and  then he would always say something totally ridiculous to make me laugh and I’d be able to handle a little bit more. He insisted that I learn to laugh at myself and not take things to seriously. I kept all the notes he would leave in my room when I’d crossed the line; I was always mad reading them but mostly because I knew he was right. You can't argue with sound logic. And he would always find funny ways to just let me know that I wasn't on the right path - such as extension cords, ladles and dumbbells under my sheets and pillow when I got home passed my curfew.

So, in my living room, I just prayed that Superman would be okay. And I shot for the moon praying that he would have no lasting effects and that it would be like this stroke never happened. It was amazing that the day after the stroke, he could talk like nothing had happened. His vision was blurry in one eye and he didn't score so hot on the zoo animal test, but otherwise, he seemed fine. We laughed about ridiculous memories from family vacations and the day after he got home when friends came to visit, he stuffed a pillow up his back and came out to greet them dragging one leg; he was still up to his usual tricks and jokes.

Two months later, I'm sure he has some struggles, but you really wouldn't know he had a stroke. I went on a mountain bike ride with him before we had our Thanksgiving feast - what a tremendous blessing. And as we all went around the table that day I felt so much gratitude for the people in my life. Relationships are what make life fun. They also make it survivable when it gets rough. I am so grateful for my parents - they did an amazing job raising my brother and I; more than anything being great examples. I have a good head on my shoulders which I attribute to a blessing from heaven and from teachings from my parents. I am so grateful to have truly wonderful people in my life and that we still laugh, watch action movies, ski, mountain bike, hike, camp and play pranks on each other. I'm one lucky gal.


  1. Brittany, this is the sweetest tribute EVER to a wonderful, thoughtful man. We're all so blessed to have him around. What a year this has been. You are a doll and I love you so much.


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