It has been two years since I have been home for a Thanksgiving. As we drove to Tennessee I couldn't remember the last time the four of us had been on a road trip together. It is the one problem with adventures, they seem to interfere with being close to the ones you love on a regular basis. As we arrived in Gatlinburg, Tennessee the week began and I quickly remembered my Southern roots. First stop was the knife store followed by a walk down the "redneck-vegas strip," ripe with tacky, trashy glory. Candy shops, beef jerky stores, plenty of ways to waste money, Thanksgiving was here.
Thanksgivings with my mom's side of the family are always full of the wonderful kind of disfunctionality that only families can provide. This year was no different. There were late night runs to the Moonshine Holler with my cousin to taste moonshine out of communion cups and another late night trip for foot-long corn dogs, because it isn't Thanksgiving without a foot-long corn dog. I hiked a mountain with my brother and dad, climbing up roots off the beaten path with my manicured nails and camo pants to get the best view, feeling quite proud and sore after six miles. And my favorite part was the Magic Show where the story of Jesus' birth was shared and then used as the reason for why Pinocchio could become a real boy. Only in the South are all those things combined. I ate so much food, so much sugar, and I laughed so hard my abs hurt, which is not an occurrence that happens often but one in which the pain is accepted and loved because it means happiness and joy...or too much sugar.
In the end, as I flew home on the overly crowded airplane, I reflected on the whirlwind week I had. Indeed, my family is crazy, but that disfunction and crazy is what makes Thanksgivings so fun. It is the one time where I can be with my cousin and her husband, where we can talk and laugh and reflect on our family's faults and funny moments. It is the one time I can be in a car with my parents and brother, singing loudly enough to thoroughly annoy my father and getting just obnoxious enough with my brother to make us laugh like we are little kids again. It is the one time that I can be with my grandparents and my great aunt, gaining from their wisdom and experience, feeling full because I am part of a family that has done things, been places, and served the Lord with great fervor. As obnoxious as we all can be, these are the moments I am thankful for. And I wouldn't trade my crazy family for any other.