It’s the first Thanksgiving that my family is having outside of Central Oregon in more than a decade, and I know there will be things I’ll miss about having it back home in Oregon. I’ll miss our rustic dining room table. The view from the dining room of the rosy-colored buttes and hills in the distance. Baking pumpkin and fruit pies in the old familiar kitchen with the music turned up loud. Watching a family of deer grazing out the window. Going for a walk in the neighborhood (sometimes in the snow) after the big meal and feeling the fresh, clean Central Oregon mountain air in my lungs.
I’m going to miss all those things. But this year has taught me a lot about the meaning of home and what “home” really is. In many ways, this year has been amazing. And in some ways, it’s been a little hard, too. But I’m thankful, especially for those hard moments, because I’ve learned the most from the adversity.
What I’ve learned is this: home is not a physical place. Home has to do with people – not a house or a town or a region. Those things can contribute to the feeling of home, but without the people you love in a place – a house, a town, and a region mean so very little.
Even though Cinnamon Peters, the heroine of the Christmas River series, loves living in Christmas River and would spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas there for the rest of her life if she had the choice, I think she would agree with me on that point. If Daniel, Warren, Kara, and all the people that matter so much to her weren’t living in Christmas River anymore, would it really feel like home to her? While she loves living in the small Oregon mountain town, it’s not all because of the beautiful scenery and the cozy, homey feel. It’s because of the family and friends around her there that make the place feel so special.
Much like Cinnamon, I am also blessed with a phenomenal, supportive, and loving family -- all of who will be at Thanksgiving in Denver this November (dogs and cats included!) A lot will be different this year, but the important things will be the same: there will be turkey, stuffing, pie, a beautiful table setting (courtesy of my super talented and crafty sister,) good music, laughter, and love. There will also be sharing stories over coffee in the morning, football, viewings of Home for the Holidays and Hannah and Her Sisters, Black Friday shopping, and of course, plenty of leftovers.
Cinnamon’s always harping on the subject of getting too caught up in the small details of life and taking the things you have for granted. It’s easy to do, especially in this fast-paced world we live in. But I think that’s why it’s so wonderful to have a holiday like Thanksgiving. It gives you a chance to slow down, assess your priorities, reflect on all the wonderful things in your life, and to realize just how damn lucky you are to be sitting at the Thanksgiving table another year, gorging yourself on turkey and sweet potatoes and stuffing and pie alongside the people you love the most.
My Thanksgiving this year won’t feature a Central Oregon backdrop the way it usually does. But I’ve come to realize that that doesn't matter a bit. Because I’ll still be celebrating the holiday at home this November, surrounded by all the people who make it that way.
What does home mean to you? Comment below for a chance to win one of three digital copies of Roasted in Christmas River: A Thanksgiving Cozy Mystery!