For most of the world, it was an entirely ordinary day. A Sunday. Nothing spectacular, nothing grand.

For the Cushatt family, however, yesterday was Thanksgiving Day.

Of course, yesterday wasn’t Thanksgiving Day. Technically. But we pretended it was.

I woke up before dawn, children and husband still lost to dreamland. After dressing myself, I headed downstairs to dress the star of the day’s performance in butter, lemon, salt and pepper. Then, sliding the 24-pound turkey into the oven (yes, 24 pounds), I started work on the accompaniment: Mashed potatoes and corn. Chocolate and pumpkin pies. Cherry-pecan stuffing, cranberry sauce, fresh cut vegetables, sweet potatoes. Gravy. Gallons of gravy.

This is what I do every Thanksgiving Day. I invite far more people than I should, and I cook my heart out all day long. There’s nothing I love more.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and has been for as long as I can remember. Everyone close to me knows this.

Over the next few days, I imagine many of you will gather at the houses of relatives or friends. You’ll eat more than you should, watch football games and fall into a beautiful late day turkey-induced coma. You’ll savor pie, tell stories, and laugh at each others jokes. You’ll play games, go for long walks (a futile effort to burn off the 2,394 calories you ate), and head back home for seconds.

But tomorrow—Tuesday, November 25 at 7:30 AM—I’m scheduled for surgery. Thursday will bring no feasting, no gathering of friends, no watching football. Instead, I will be lying in a hospital bed. Far from my friends, family and dining room table. Sedated, secluded, hungry.

I find it ironic that the first diagnosis came on the same day in 2010, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The phone rang at 8:30 in the morning, moments before I planned to drive to the grocery store to gather enough food for our feast. I started the day filled with anticipation. I ended it consumed with fear.

A world can turn upside-down just that fast.

But this year, fear didn’t show up at our feast. Not even for a moment. Instead, we turned our home into a cancer-free zone. No talk of surgery or illness. No tears or panic or wrestling with unknowns. Instead, for 24 hours, we feasted and shared, laughed and played.

We gave thanks.  

And this is why I believe this will be our most sacred Thanksgiving of all. Because we chose to feast on thanksgiving rather than fear:

  • For friends and family who, without hesitation, moved their Thanksgiving celebration to an ordinary Sunday.
  • For doctors and hospitals and access to both
  • For a faithful husband who loves me more than I deserve
  • For children who call me “mama” and love me in spite of myself
  • For a life so rich, so filled with blessing, I can hardly believe it’s mine
  • For a God who takes my breath away and will never, ever leave

You see, Thanksgiving isn’t a Thursday in November. It isn’t a holiday, grocery list, meal, or gathering of people.

Thanksgiving is a choice. An attitude. A way of life.

Choosing to see. 

Three hundred, sixty-five days a year, not just one.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. Wherever you find yourself this week, whatever your life circumstances, whoever sits at your table or is absent from it … choose Thanksgiving.

Your celebration this week isn’t dependent on the calendar or details of your life, but what you choose to feast your eyes upon.

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? 

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