Every year on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, my family fills the car (or more recently, two cars) with suitcases, books, and Dad's latest hobby. We then head over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house in Virginia.

I've already established that we're a family heavily dependent on the comfort and expectancy of tradition. It's evident in every holiday that we celebrate as a family - we sing Christmas carols in a certain order, we sit in the Model T for the 4th of July Parade with certain flags, we eat certain foods for summer birthdays. In all this certainty, we come to Thanksgiving with an appreciation for the things that do change, and with loving awareness of the things that will not. Lately, as everything around me seems to alter and shift like an ever-moving tide, I've come to value these trips of tradition all the more.

I came down the stairs this morning to the familiar sound of my mother's laughter in the kitchen. She's stuffing the turkey with Grandmum, and admits that her assistance may be more of a nuisance. I can't say that I disagree. She's already named the turkey "Tom" and is questioning whether it's actually a boy. Once you get Mom started, there's little sense in turning back. For our family, the kitchen is more a place of shared enjoyment than anything else.

"I want to use the probe for the turkey," Grandmum says.
"Okay," Mom replies, as if she understands.
"What does that mean?" Grandmum asks.

They both find this highly entertaining.

And I laugh, too, because it is entertaining. The only thing more entertaining than seeing two excellent cooks try to figure out a new convention oven is hearing my Dad explain the flying conditions as he returns from an early-morning flight (i.e. this year's hobby).

As I sit there, watching my family doing traditional things in what I can only assume are unconventional ways, a blessed peace reaches through my often over-taxed, over-worried heart. There is so much to be thankful for.

For starters, there's my wonderful husband who knows how much I love these traditions, and is willing to accept them as his own. I love that he and my sister sing together at my grandparent's piano. I love that he spends time with my Dad, learning to appreciate his hobbies. I love that he makes Thanksgiving morning grocery store runs to pick up sweet potatoes with me. He's the absolute best.

I'm thankful to be born into a family that can dwell in the sweetness of togetherness. I'm glad that the kitchen is crazy, that everyone wants to be involved, and that there's always something that doesn't go as planned. We are not a well-oiled machine. We are a conglomeration of varying strengths and weaknesses, and we like it that way.

I'm thankful for grandparents who take us, lovingly, into their home.
I'm thankful for long walks in the Virginia woods and movies with the other "kids".
I'm thankful for Wisconsin cheese from my sister's in-laws.

I'm thankful for our all-time favorite cooking show, "The Two Fat Ladies".
I'm thankful for warm beds, sweet music, and laughter.
I'm thankful for good food, good jobs, and good friends.
I'm thankful for fond memories, and the hope of years to come.
I'm thankful for a God who watches over our travels, and delights in our thanksgiving.

Here's hoping that this Thanksgiving finds you just as blessed.