How a tradition born out of sadness became my favorite day of the year

Throwback Thursday, Thanksgiving 2003. My now teenagers were two and four and my mom, dad and kid brother moved from Chicago to Florida. I felt so lost and sad and felt like they abandoned me and my little babies. I knew they were doing what was best for them, but I was too sad to accept it those first few months after they left.

So there we were in November, Thanksgiving looming, and me pouting like my toddler. The way that holiday was shaping up wasn’t looking so good. My in-laws had plans with a different side of their family. My older bro had plans with his in-laws and I really didn’t want to cook for me, Hubs and the toddlers who barely ate anything.


Instead of moping and longing for my mom’s stuffing (OH her stuffing is legendary!) Hubs and I made a decision to grab the kiddos, head to the city, eat out and stay a few nights. Can I tell you the joy? Can I scream to you how much fun we had? We stayed in a glorious hotel with a pool – the motherland for toddlers.

We checked in, we swam, we went to a movie, we went out to dinner (on Thanksgiving – don’t judge!) We had a mini-vacation, just the four of us. It was untraditional and some friends felt sorry for us. They begged us to come to their homes to dinner. People scoffed at us “How can you go OUT on Thanksgiving?”

The answer: Easily. We had so much fun, our family of four, our wee ones and us, just enjoying each other, the city lights, the get away, ice skating, visiting the window’s at Marshall Fields, all of it. We loved it so much we decided this would be our tradition. Every year, we would pack up, grab the kids and go.

And go we have. Twelve years and counting, we head downtown and I look forward to it more now than I did when the kids were younger. We now get to hang out with these really cool people, these teens of ours. We have fabulous conversations, we laugh, we now get coffee together at Starbucks on Michigan Avenue and gawk at all the Black Friday shoppers.

We leave our home, our televisions, the habits of the week and we escape, just the four of us, into our own little haven of thanks. I love it. Our guards are down, we’re relaxed and Thanksgiving is all about us.

I know some of you are saying “Oh, that sounds awful. Thanksgiving dinner out?” And some of you may be saying “Wow, that sounds fabulous! You don’t cook?” I know you’re saying this because when we tell people our tradition, we get these responses and even looks of pity. I will tell you from my soul, we love this day. Every year we’ve asked our kids if they’d like to change it up and have turkey at home – the answer: “We love the city! Why would we change that?”

So our quirky tradition, born out of what was a rough season as a young mom turned into my most beloved holiday. It is my favorite time of year – this magical escape when I get my Hubs and kids all to myself, during this magical time, in a city I have always and will always adore.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, sweet readers. Wherever you are celebrating – at your home with 30 people, at a restaurant, in Barbados, at home in front of your television – blessings and hugs to you and yours. May your year be filled with as much gratitude as I feel every time I sit to write this blog.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing this #30daysofgratitude with me. You all rock.

Can you believe we have just a few more posts to chat about our gratitude practice? Don’t miss one!

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