Share This Post

Mum and Dad

How my first baby gave me the most gratitude-filled Thanksgiving ever


Tara Shafer

posted in Parenting

I remember clearly my first son’s first Thanksgiving. We hosted at my house and my son was in those golden months of babyhood. He was 9 months old and would chortle obligingly at anyone who tapped the table as if it were, hands down, the funniest thing he’d ever seen.


I had not expected to be so moved by the holiday. I struggle with the complicated historical roots of Thanksgiving. On that particular day, though, I was taken up with making my turkey, all the sides, and managing oven space. I was not thinking especially hard about anything.

And that is when I was blindsided by one of the most transcendent moments of my life. It happened when I sat down. I saw my husband holding the baby across the table. I saw what I had done. My extended family was gathered around the table and right there was this person I had contributed to the din. I had a new relationship to my family because I had added a generation. (There are many ways to do that and I celebrate them all).

There were candles all over the table and tons to eat. I was caught off guard by the surge of gratitude I felt. I felt gratitude for my family from whence I had sprung in all sorts of ways. I felt gratitude for my body which had experienced more than one medical crisis prior to my pregnancy. I was still kind of shocked that me and my body (somehow always deliberately separated in in my mind) had managed to pull off the miracle of pregnancy and birth.

Mostly, I held gratitude for my son. He was the cutest person I had ever known or seen. He inspired in me a feeling of competence I had never experienced. (This does not mean that I knew what I was doing – more that I had to be brave and figure it out). I distinctly recall sitting at that holiday table and wanting to cry at the literal bounty of what I had. I remember setting an intention to try to be worthy of it all.

While I love the excitement of Christmas and Hanukkah as much as the next person, it takes a level of discipline to stick tight to the meaning associated with these holidays because of the consumer elements (fun, but still distracting) they entail. It’s as if the fun barometer is cranked to an unsustainable level as we carol, light candles, hang stockings, decorate cookies, ice skate. It can be exhausting. Sheesh.

I have no pictures of this first Thanksgiving day. I’m not a visual person. I don’t store pictures carefully and this preceded the I-Phone. Still, I remember well, who sat where, how the light fell, and the pants my baby was wearing.

More struggles would follow. They always do. But that day, that first Thanksgiving as a mother, is one I will never forget. In dark moments, when I feel overwhelmed I still think of that day and of that moment.

My kids are older now and so am I. We still love Thanksgiving. My kids love to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. After we have eaten, I still enjoy forcing as many of them as I can to watch The Sound of Music. And before they drift off I focus, mindfully, on what they all mean and on how our collective existence sets a bar for gratitude and appreciation.

How do you remember your first Thanksgiving as a parent?

Photos courtesy of I-Stock. Used with permission.

Share This Post