Spelling out my Thanks

As I sat down at the dinner table for Thanksgiving last week, I couldn't help but be awed not by the spread of food, but by the spread of blessings laid in my life this year.

And now it's time to spell out my thanks. 

T: turkey. I mentioned in my last post that Father Turkey was landing on our table a day early this year so I'd have leftovers to bring to the neighborhood Thanksgiving potluck. This was our second gluten free holiday feast, and though we - like usual - were cooking blind, our taste buds rode the turkey train to heaven! Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, roasted vegetables, cranberry sauce...our table might have been missing gluten, but it wasn't missing out on family favorites

All the noms!
Beyond the turkey, I am most thankful for the family that adapts to my needs. Gluten free? No problem. Dairy free? We can work with that. Mom and I even scored a mini apple pie - gluten, dairy and soy free - at our local Sprouts. We didn't expect much, but this Kraft creation tastes just like the traditional pie. Not too sweet, crumbly crust, soft spiced apples...that disappeared quick. 

The best sundae ever: Apple pie and Coconut bliss Ice cream!
But the memories of my gluten eatin' dad and sister digging into the GF stuffing and gravy and giving a big thumbs up will stay a while longer. 

H: healing. The day of actual Thanksgiving, my dad and I decided to go on a turkey trot of our own. Plus a soccer ball. It's been nearly a year since I strained my IT band and my dad tore his PCL, sidelining both of us from soccer. That day, though, our feet caressed the ball like long lost lovers. 

We passed, we ran, we even played "soccer basketball" where we juggle the ball into the basketball hoop with anything but our hands. We scored 12 baskets in 20 minutes...far from our record, but at the nearly 90 degree heat, perfectly reputable. 

Throwback to when I first started juggling!
There was only one other pair shooting hoops at the elementary school: a young boy in a wheelchair and an older man I assumed to be his father. The boy wasn't extremely coordinated and the ball got wedged between the backboard and rim more than once, but the father never stopped passing it back. 

To me, that is the true spirit of thanksgiving: giving thanks for every ability still left in your broken body. I can't eat gluten, but I can walk. I'm not back to my post-diagnosis state, but I'm better than a year ago. 

And, in the times when I need them, I know there will be someone to help me make a basket

A: adapt. After dragging ourselves home, we showered then walked over to the Thanksgiving feast a few houses down. We had no idea what to expect, but we weren't planning on staying too long. Four hours later, the food finally emerged hot from the kitchen. And the questions started. Mom and I had devoured our gluten free leftovers at home, and our empty plates stood out among the festive place settings. 

Hanging out with the chickens at our neighbor's house
"Gluten free? You can eat the salad then, right? It has eggs, but that's not gluten is it?" 

The well meaning questions filled my cheeks with heat, but as I held hands and said grace with all the other eaters, I felt at peace. Sure, at times it was awkward. Sure, at times (all of them to be exact) I wanted nothing more than to plant my face in the buffet. But I adapted. I enjoyed. I said thanks for the friends and family surrounding me. And when my dad won Brainy Smurf in a Raffle, I knew I made the smart choice. 

Me and Mr. Smurf
N: ninety. Ninety has been my dream weight for months after jumping up and down on the scale to shake the arrow above the "eighty eight" mark. Finally, I've passed it. I'm twelve pounds heavier than last year, falling at a "swol" ninety six pounds. 

I won't lie and say that the adjustment has been entirely easy. After staying at such a low weight for so long, I finally deemed it my new normal. And now I'm changing again. 

Strong and healthy
But I am thankful for it when my parents huge me without feeling bones. When my muscular legs power me through an 8 mile stationary bike ride. When I look in the mirror and see a blend of the girl pre and post diagnosis. 

K: Krazy kin. Linguistically, this is a bit of a cheat, but it depicts the idea of my family perfectly. We're zany. We're crazy. And we are always laughing. And I couldn't be more thankful.  

Yesterday, we decorated the Christmas tree to the tune of Christmas music and random teasing. And when it came time to take pictures, World War III started. Too slow at clicking the button. Too blurry pictures. Too ridiculous poses. So we ended up with photos like these. I'm okay with that. 

Christmas as the Cromwell's!
S: semester. As wild as it seems, as I drive back to school today, I'm driving back to the last three weeks of first semester. In 21 days, I'll be a junior in terms of my credits. Honestly, I'm scared to death. But more than fear, thanks dominates my mind. Thanks for adventures with friends. For food experimentation. For the boy with the same sarcastic, ridiculous sense of humor as mine. 

It'll be a busy three weeks full of tests, essays and finals. But I'm determined to make it the best three weeks possible by swallowing up every drop of Christmas cheer. There were so many winter activities I avoided last year because of my health. Now I thank my body for gaining enough strength for me to experience it all. 

Friends and frozen delights!
Thanksgiving is known for its food, but the tastiest turkey is the one stuffed with thanks. I've had a whirlwind of a year, but this break has allowed me to realize just how lucky I am. And I'm determined to hold onto the spirit of this turkey trot for the rest of 2014!

What was your favorite part of thanksgiving? What are you grateful for this year? Comment below! 


  1. My goodness girl it looks like you had quite the holiday! I am SO proud of your accomplishments, both on the scale and in the way you perceive life. I see my joyful, strong, and optimistic friend in those pictures and it's so great to hear her voice in your writing. It makes me feel like we aren't so overdue for one of our walks around campus. I'll be praying for a great end to the semester and lots of brain space for finals studying! love you and miss you!!

    1. I have a great role model to look up to! :) Thanks for the finals motivation and brain power - the weeks are flying by, but I'm definitely savoring all the social activities I can! I miss you tons girl and I hope that you are kicking butt at life like usual! :) We are well overdue for a Skype date - maybe after I get out of school? Christmas edition? Love you! :D

  2. Beautiful and wonderful! I'm so happy YOU are so happy! It is so great to truly recognize what we have and are thankful for! This weekend made me step back and see all the good too! XOXOXOXOXOXO

    1. Awww, thanks Rebecca! It's amazing how good you can feel after really taking in account all the blessings around you. I read your Thanksgiving post and am soooo glad you had a great time even away from home! Kick butt at finals and have a fabulous Christmas girlie! :)


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