When I was younger my best friends family had this amazing tradition. They would get together for family/game night. Being a child of divorce this seemed like the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. Any extended family was invited. Including friends like myself. Everybody just had so much fun. They’d come together and laugh, eat, and tease each other as they played games. It was this beautiful time together. Now looking back I realize it’s the perfect way to setup for the week ahead. Spending time with those you love. It became an unspoken dream of mine to have Sunday family dinners. They represented the things I wanted most. Togetherness, happiness, family, and love.
Fast forward to years later being engaged. During our engagement I told my soon to be husband I wanted to start a Sunday night family dinner. I was so excited. We were going to be starting our lives together, and were surrounded by those we love. It seemed the perfect time. There’d be Italian dinners, taco nights, bbq’s, casseroles (I love to eat).
Well fast forward a little more and he tells me that we are moving out of state. To Alabama. Where we will have no family. Which means, you guessed it, no family dinners. I was devastated. Not only was I leaving my beloved Florida, but I was also leaving behind any chance of having family dinners as our closest family lived in, you guessed it, Florida. This was a great opportunity though for him to pursue his career in the way he had wanted. I would never stand in the way of him doing what he loves, so off we went to Alabama.
It was a newlywed adventure. A little over two months after we were married, we moved. We started out with an apartment, mattress on the floor, and a small dining set. That first Thanksgiving I used my brand new china and made our first turkey dinner with all the fixings. We ate. It was a great dinner. The place settings were beautiful. We were happy, but something was missing. Loved ones. We were far from home and alone.
November, almost a year later, we had our first son. My husbands family came to spend Thanksgiving with us. We used plastic ware (much to my husbands dismay) and crammed into our small apartment (which to be fair was huge for 2 1/2 people). With a three week old baby I was filled with anxiety and looking back most definitely had postpartum depression. It wasn’t the most enjoyable time for myself. After this year would spend Thanksgiving with my husbands family each year. It was the closest to family dinners I was going to get.
We had our second son a little over two years after the birth of our first. We created this beautiful family and I was so in love. My dream was two boys, and here I was, with two beautiful, healthy boys. We still didn’t have much of a support system or network of friends out here, but that was beginning to shift.
As I write this today, we’ve been in Alabama over 6 years. 6 years! Honestly, I love it here. If given the opportunity I wouldn’t go back to my beloved Florida. We’ve finally built our tribe. We’ve made friends and actually have lives! We make plans, go on dates, and spend time with others. We have a beautiful home that I’ve poured my heart into. It’s a place I’m proud of and get to share with the people I love most in life. Through our boys going to daycare we were able to meet other parents and families. There is a group of us that all just sort of clicked. Some have family here, and some like us, do not. There is one family in particular we really clicked with. They are friends who quickly became family. They even built a beautiful home in our neighborhood! Our children are around the same ages and (when they aren’t fighting) have the best time together. There’s a special bond between us all. One I’m beyond grateful for.
How does this tie into Sunday night family dinners? Well, I love having lazy family days at home one day a week. We stay in pj’s and make no plans. As I said, these friends are family now. We began having Sunday pj dinners with them. I didn’t think much of it. Well last night I knew we’d be over there for dinner so I cooked chicken breast in pasta sauce all day. I made a big caprese style salad, freshly made garlic bread, asparagus, and homemade banana bread and salad dressing. We loaded our freshly bathed, pj wearing boys into the truck and headed over to their house. As I’m holding the crockpot of chicken and sauce it dawned on me that we were having a Sunday night family dinner. Over 6 years in the making, in some organic way, we had established unsaid Sunday night family dinners. I thought my heart would burst. This small dream of togetherness, yummy food, conversation, and being with those you love had finally came true. They say in life it’s the small things that mean the most. It’s true. This small tradition means much more to me than it would to most.
As we start our own lives we forget the small things that had such an impact on our hearts. I’m hoping you can look back and maybe realize a small dream of your own, and make it into a reality. Or maybe you already have and simply failed to notice. This week I hope you share beautiful moments with people you love, and maybe start a fun tradition of your own. My hope is that my children grow to love these small moments that are actually much bigger than we can imagine as I do.
Oh, and this year, we will be staying home and having our very own Friendsgiving. I might even bust out that fancy china once again, but this time I’ll have to unwrap more than two place settings.