Finding Thanksgiving this year was an act of digging.

Last year on Thanksgiving, it was such a happy blog post and a happy time in general when I wrote about Their First Holiday. I couldn’t get myself to publish a Thanksgiving blog post this year until I knew how the day would go and that I could find ‘thanks’ in it this year. A day later, I sit here knowing that yesterday, though challenging, was a day filled with thankfulness.

Finding Thanksgiving

On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, my life changed. I briefly described it the other day in processing life through journaling. When I told you (in the Comfort Spicy Sweet Potato Fries blog post) that, “This Thanksgiving and Christmas are likely to be very different for us, and for this year, that’s okay,” I could never have known just how different this Thanksgiving would be. Even though the post published on November 15, I had written it about a week prior. This Thanksgiving was supposed to be different for all the life changes (I have disclosed yet) pending shortly. It was not supposed to be different in the ways it turned out to be different.

My mom called, from Minnesota, on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, to tell me my dad was in the hospital. Just a day later (on November 15) he would be diagnosed with Cancer. I am processing it all through my journal, and not wanting to share everything about it quite yet, but seriously — F#$% cancer. F#$% it now. F@#$ it forever. Just F#$% it.

Almost immediately, Ryan booked a flight home for me so I could spend Thanksgiving in Minnesota.

I got in late on Wednesday night, and my mom picked me up at the airport (after just leaving the hospital). We drove to my brother’s house (about 45 minutes away). We knew we’d spend Thanksgiving at the hospital with my dad, so we crashed at my brothers.

I haven’t been sleeping in California – like, at all. Wednesday night, though, I slept about 9 hours. When I woke up on Thanksgiving, I felt clear for the day – to do the day, to see my dad, all of it.

It took us awhile to get going, but eventually, we did, and since we didn’t want to rely on hospital food (I can’t even – another story -for another day), we grabbed an early lunch around 11 am at a French Cafe (Nicoise Salad for me, full dressing, extra avocado – super Thanksgiving-ish, yes?!)

While sitting there, my mom said to JJ (that’s my brother) and I, “Okay, let’s do the tradition. Everyone say one thing you’re thankful for this year.” JJ instantly said, “No.” Then we both said, “This food.” My mom said, “Okay. Fair enough.” And then I said something. It was probably fairly serious, but I can’t even remember what it was because in my head I was simultaneously thinking, “I just don’t even know this year.” My mom said she was thankful the week was over. And our conversation took off from there.

Shortly after, we went to the hospital. We stayed there all day. At night, we drove my brother home, then went to my aunt and uncle’s house in the home(town) I grew up in. We had turkey, spring rolls (she makes the best), pie, and Kombucha. Ha. Totally Thanksgiving. Mom and I got home around 10 pm. I fell asleep on the couch some before 11 pm.

Today, just one day after Thanksgiving, I know that while finding Thanksgiving wasn’t as easy this year, there was so much to be thankful for yesterday. These things ran through my mind around 3 am this morning (don’t worry, I then fell asleep until almost 6 am). 

Here are all the things I was truly thankful for yesterday

  1. My dad. Even in that hospital bed, he is still my hero. I literally cannot bring myself to write about anything yet because it’s all too much for my heart currently. But I am so thankful that God gave me him as my dad.
  2. My mom. Selfless. Always. I’ve never known someone as good in the ways my mother is good. 
  3. My brother. He holds it together, and can always make us laugh. He introduced me to Shane & Shane Live this past week, and it’s helped me feel calmer.
  4. Ryan. He booked my flight immediately. He is taking care of the babies (for almost a week) by himself. Yesterday he sent me approximately 154 pictures and videos of the kids so I wouldn’t feel that I was missing anything. He even dressed them all in their Vikings gear, then snapped pictures for us. He made them a full Thanksgiving meal, all by himself. He has 1,000% supported a major decision I’ve made for around Christmas time. He is my rock. And without him, this time of life would be absolutely impossible. Finding Thanksgiving Ryan and SKH
  5. The babies. Seeing their pictures and videos made me feel so grateful that they are mine (even though they are so hard right now). OMG how incredibly adorable are they in those Vikings outfits? I just can’t even. (Also, they are our Vikings good luck charms when they wear these! SKOL Vikings.)Finding Thanksgiving Isaiah, Samarah, Amiya
  6. The VA. My dad is a Veteran, and this is the hospital he chose. It’s a far(ther) drive for my mom than others, but he was adamant about going there. When I walked in yesterday, I saw this massive American Flag hanging from the ceiling. I’m still not sold on the hospital for the long haul, but I am grateful for all they have done this past week, and all that they do for those who serve this country. My dad loves that American flag. Finding Thanksgiving VA Hospital American Flag
  7. Family. There is nothing like the love of family. Between Ryan’s family and my own, we have had so much unconditional love and support this past week. Family members dropping everything to help my mom, brother, and Ryan and I. My cousin’s (aka the BFF) daughter Sophie gave a “Get Well” e-card for my dad, and then made him a handwritten one that is just priceless (she’s little). My other cousin pulled me aside and broke down in a heart-to-heart last night that I will not ever forget. 
  8. Friends. Friends have offered everything from helping Ryan with the kids to my friends back home wanting to do anything they can. And my 2 besties in Chicago willing to hop a flight for anything we might need. Not once have I thought, “I wonder if they are serious?” I don’t have many friends, but the ones I do are everything. I recently shared this quote, “I’m close to very few people, but those very few people mean everything to me.” – unknown
  9. Minnesota. It’s cold. But man, I love, love, love, love this place. While driving around the hospital area, then the Lake Minnetonka area (where my brother lives), down to Chaska, then Jordan, through Elysian, and home to Waseca – I realized that it just rocks here! Finding Thanksgiving SKH
  10. My clients. Sounds weird to most, but totally normal for me. Yesterday I was thinking about how supportive they all were when I told them, “I will be working from Minnesota for about a week. No photos will be taken. I’ll be around working, just sporadically throughout the days, instead of clustered time.” Everyone said, “Take what you need. Do whatever you have to do.” 
  11. The LORD. My cousin said to me last night, “I don’t understand. They go to church and believe, and we keep losing them.” (We have lost a lot these past few years.) I didn’t reply to it because I don’t know. I don’t understand. I’m not pretending that for each person we lose and each person we watch go through illness I stand here saying, “Thank you, God, thank you.” How could I? And yet still, my love for the LORD is unwavering. I believe with all my heart that He is a good, good Father and that while there might not be any way around this, going through it believing is the only way.
  12. Faith. Hope. And Love. Finally, finding Thanksgiving was made possible with faith, hope, and love. Truly. Without faith there can be no hope (for me), and with the love that will exist no matter what the days remind me that there is always Thanksgiving surrounding us.

I hope that answers your question, Mom! And also, one more picture of them to make you go…..”thank you.” 🙂 Finding Thanksgiving Amiya, Isaiah, Samarah

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your own friends and family. I’m not feeling any Black Friday shopping today (except maybe some online stuff – pssstttt… HERE and do not miss this Beautycounter stuff – I’m getting in on it, too)!

Today I’ll find myself back at the VA, and praying that this is the day we bring Dad home.


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  1. Wonderful post. Except for that cancer part. I’m with you on the f%#$ cancer. That will never change. Know that you and your family are in my daily prayers.

  2. So sorry for what your family is going through. I’ve been there. Hang on to each moment. Prayers for you and yours.

    P.S. Love those Vikings babies! My husband was born in Lake City, MN, so he’s a lifelong fan.

  3. Wonderful blog. So sorry to hear about cancer, praying for your Dad and family! As I read your blog remember when you don’t think you can face something, your faith in the Lord will carry you!

  4. Sending prayers, love and strength to your family. My good friend is dealing with the same situation except it’s her mother. I too put my faith in God and pray that he will carry you all through this trial you are enduring.

  5. Sarah my thoughts and prayers are with Donnie, Nancy, Jason, and yourself. Along with your entire family. Reading this was like a punch in the gut! You know how I feel about your entire family. I can’t drink anymore so I don’t go to the Legion anymore. This is the first I’ve heard about him. Is he still at the VA? If you don’t mind my asking, what kind of cancer? Again I am so sorry. I might try and get up to see him if he’s still up there! God Bless Sarah

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