Horney family holidays (it’s as good as it sounds)

This year, in a striking moment of ambition, I decided to host Thanksgiving at our house. And I do mean “I” decided. This is a perfect example of perhaps the most common disagreement in the Horney house, when I broadcast big decisions without “actually” discussing said decision with my darling husband. 5 years later and this is still happening, you ask? Don’t worry, God is working on me. Keep reading.

I thought it would be such a great idea to invite Sam’s family to our house for Thanksgiving, and then dedicate our girl at church that Sunday. 2 birds, one stone, so to speak (ha! get it? birds? turkey? Come on now.) They agreed to come, and suddenly it was November. Six Horney relatives were about to descend upon our humble home, plus the bits and pieces of my family who were still in town and planning on joining us for dinner, and a few dear friends just to round things out.

*cue Sam’s panic face, followed by Jessie’s lackluster reassurances, and Clara’s sudden “I used to sleep through the night?” amnesia attack.

Confession: I was worried. Our house isn’t very big, our baby isn’t very old, and I have never made Thanksgiving dinner in my life. So why the heck did I invite everyone over? This is where I blame my mother (hi mom!). It is her unwavering belief in me that created this monster before you, the monster who thinks everything is possible and that she can do anything with a little help. My mom always encouraged us to follow our hearts and make things happen, no matter the obstacle. We were superstars in her eyes, and I carry around some of that ‘my mom says I’m special’ ill-bred confidence to this day. So…Thanksgiving over here, everybody! At my little house, with my in-laws, my introverted husband, my three month old baby, my lack of culinary expertise, and a whole lotta positive self-talk.

The week wasn’t perfect. My kid cried through several of the nights, her wails reverberating off the hardwood floors and into the ears of her grandparents, aunts and uncles deep into the midnight hour. My little brother spilled red wine, I googled a gravy recipe AS we served the turkey, and Sam and I even threw in a small disagreement for good measure. But take heart, Horney readers! The holiday spirit reigned, floating through our house in the form of strong coffee, baby giggles, the fantastic homemade rolls my little sister whipped up, beautiful decorations, and lots and lots and lots of love.

So here you go: 3 things I’m thankful for, 1 thing I know, and 1 thing I was oh-so-wrong about.

1. I’m thankful for Sam’s parents. For my mother-in-law and the intentional way she communicates and cares about her sons’ wives, for my father-in-law and the way he serves without any expectations at all. Thank you, Debbie, for unloading my dishwasher a million times, keeping two pots of coffee brewed, listening when I need to talk, and loving my daughter with a grandmother’s abandon. Thank you, Sandy, for trusting me as a new mom, for supporting me as your son’s wife, and for being a silent beam of strength in our family. You are both dear to me as second parents!

2. I’m thankful for Sam’s little brothers and their wives. They are some of our best friends, and the fact that we would even want them in our house for a week says a lot about how special they are to us. I mean, for goodness sakes, they grew mustaches just to be the ‘weird uncles’ at Clara’s dedication. I know that’s ridiculous, but to me it was just another reason to love them. Alene and Andrea are the sisters of my heart, and GOSH I love you both! Like, Hallmark Christmas movie tender moment kind of love.

3. I’m thankful for my little sister. There was this moment, during dinner, when I looked around our table at the faces of so many people I love, and there were two baby cousins sleeping in my bedroom, and I thought, “Yeah. We’re the moms now. We’re the aunts. We pull out turkey gizzards and we make pies and we pray for dinner and we go home with our husbands. We are making these families.” I’ve never been so grateful for my three sisters as I am in motherhood, and watching Jamilyn walk the path before her with such grace and kindness fills me with admiration and pride.

4. I know that I have to be a mom first. This was hard. It was hard to walk away from a messy kitchen to nurse, it was hard to wake up all night and put her back to sleep, and it was hard to realize that any and all Clara questions needed to be answered by ME. Her MOM. It was a bizarre leap into public parenting, complete with lonely, screaming car rides once her aunts and uncles realized just how deep her hatred for that carseat goes and conveniently always rode in the other car (fair weather fans, those guys.) It’s a different gig to try and host while parenting at the same time. But every time I walked into the living room and saw Clara holding court, the family gathered around and laughing at her every facial expression, I melted a little. She spread love around our house like butter on a dinner roll, and it was pure magic.

5. I was wrong about Sam. I knew this week would be hard on him, and I knew he was nervous. So I prepared myself to protect him from the stress, to keep him as far away from the holiday messes as long as I could, mostly in the name of self-preservation. I was wrong about how he would react. This pressure cooker of a week brought us closer than ever, and provided a moment of recognition for each other’s strengths that couldn’t have happened anywhere else. Look-  even when things are hard around here, even when happiness is more of a mountain than a hill, and even when we seem to be speaking two different languages, SAM ALWAYS TRIES. And this week, my lovely husband, you earned a gosh darn gold medal. Thank you for listening. Thank you for hearing. And thank you for letting your heart be vulnerable. I love you, I love you, I love you. And I trust you.

Thank you Lord for a week of blessings, big and small, difficult and easy. 
You are King. Bless your name! 
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