When I invited my friend Jill to my house for Thanksgiving this year, I said, “I don’t know yet who’s coming but I know that my ex-husband is not so it’ll be better than that one year.”
It was a humorous reference to Thanksgiving 2009 when my husband and I had just separated. Not wanting him to spend Thanksgiving alone, I invited him to come for the meal. And then almost everyone else bailed – like my brother who had young kids so he excused himself and his family in a desire not to be part of the drama.
That left my parents, my friend Jill, my ex and myself. Most awkward Thanksgiving ever.
We couldn’t talk about what was going on because I’d told my parents we’d separated but I hadn’t explained about my ex’s infidelities because he’d asked me not to. So the truth and all the efforts we’d made for almost a year since things had come to the surface were off the table, so to speak.
But more than that, I remember this period as one of just being dead inside. The light in my eyes had gone out. Life was hard, not so much in a day-to-day existence kind of way but in that way where it feels like you are stuck in a tar pit and a step in any direction feels hard. It was a time that drained me of all joy and delight.
Jill showed up and made it work. She brought wine, told stories, and with her energy and enthusiasm managed the façade that it was all going to be okay.
I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends
To quote the Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
I was thankful for Jill for being there that Thanksgiving. But at the time, I was knee deep in the mess of my life and too absorbed in my pain to even recognize the momentousness of it. It’s taken me the perspective of time to appreciate what Jill did for me that Thanksgiving. She showed me how to get by with a little help from your friends because she modeled the kind of friend I want to be:
A friend who shows up so that you aren’t alone in your discomfort.
A friend who enables you to talk about it or not talk about, whichever you prefer.
A friend at the table who reminds you that even though there might not be quick solutions to your problems, that you are supported in the messy stew of right now.
A friend who knows all your garbage but and still makes you feel worthwhile.
A friend who can make you laugh and distract you so that you can get some perspective on what needs to happen next.
A friend who is proof that you can have faith in others even when you feel let down.
A friend who you know will stay as long as it takes to feel okay again.
Saint Martin said, “My friends are the beings through whom God loves me.” I imagine that is most true in the hard times when we need presence to get us through.
I’m a huge fan of gratitude because it fuels an upward spiral in my outlook. But I’m a little resentful that sometimes the deepest things I learn come from the darkest moments. Nonetheless, I am grateful for what Thanksgiving 2009 taught me about friendship.
A Thanksgiving Toast
Jill accepted my invitation to Thanksgiving this year so maybe we’ll raise a glass to celebrate what the bad years have taught us to appreciate about the good ones. And as a lasting legacy of that particularly bad year, I now invite anyone that wants to come to my Thanksgiving table and it is sometimes more friends and strangers than family, as is the case this year.
If you are celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I hope that wherever you go, whether this is a good or bad year/holiday for you, you have a friend at the table, physically or virtually.
What are you grateful for this week? What have the bad times taught you to appreciate?
For more posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com or follow me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon
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(featured photo from Pexels)
43 thoughts on “Guess Who’s Coming For Dinner?”
Oh Wynne, I love this post. You make me take a closer look at friendships and how very blessed we are to have them. You spur me on to strive to be a better friend to my friends! Blessings to you my friend, and to your sweet family as you celebrate a much happier Thanksgiving than you did so many years ago. You’ve come a long way, baby!
Oh, Julia, you know how to make me laugh and nod at the same time. Yes, it feels like a long way. Thank you, my friend!! Sending my gratitude for you – happy Thanksgiving!
I think sometimes we get unintended glimpses into other people’s hearts, and the thoughtfulness you showed your ex..? Even during that time, and despite all he’d done…? I know that wasn’t the point, but wow!
As to friends, you’re so right. And I’m the same about not fully recognizing what another person has done until I’ve processed a bit.
P. S. If I was going to be in the area, I’d take advantage of your open Thanksgiving table, to stop by for a few minutes. Sounds like great fun, and I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Wynne!
Also, these: 😭😭
“A friend at the table who reminds you that even though there might not be quick solutions to your problems, that you are supported in the messy stew of right now.”
“A friend who knows all your garbage but and still makes you feel worthwhile.”
Oh Kendra, I’d love it if you stopped by! Wouldn’t that be fun?! And yes, I was fortunate that we didn’t have an acrimonious divorce.
Thank you for your incredibly kind comment. You’ve highlighted a couple of my favorite friend attributes. And I feel blessed to count you as a friend!
Happy Thanksgiving, Wynn! <3
Happy Thanksgiving Cheryl! Wishing you and your family the best! <3
Never are friends more needed than when we are trying to be civil to to cheating ex for the the children’s sake, lol. Oh, I can relate!
Oh, I’m laughing, VJ. Sorry you’ve gone through this too but thanks for making me feel heard! 🙂
Happy Turkey Day, Wynne…and family…and I need to second Kendra’s love of this sentence…something I’m eternally grateful for: “A friend who knows all your garbage but and still makes you feel worthwhile.” I’ve been blessed with a few kindred souls who know all of my crapola…actually helped me bring it into the light…awful as that can be…and stayed around for the clean-up. Nothing better. Hugs to all! 😉❤😉
What an insightful comment, Vicki. Yes, they help us bring it into the light and stay around for the clean-up. What a blessing to have friends like that!! And I feel lucky to count you as one of my more recent but nonetheless very deep friends! Thank you, Vicki!! Happy Thanksgiving!
Much love, Wynne….you and I are feeling the same…and the piece I’m just about to post is another sweet indication of like-mindedness. xo, friend! 😘
Oh, I can’t wait to read it Vicki!! XOXO!!
“sometimes the deepest things I learn come from the darkest moments”- I think that’s true for all of us. And I hope it is -that way we at least have something to show for our struggles/suffering.
At least we have something to show for our struggles — excellent point, Todd! Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks Wynne- you too! 🙂
A great post Wynne, made me think of so many wonderful quotes on friendship. Two of them spring to mind: A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh gem: “I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen” and Oprah Winfrey’s often quoted one: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks do.” Yes, yes, grateful for the friends who help us pull ourselves out of the muck. Thank you so much and here’s hoping you have a wonderful thanksgiving and holiday season.
Oh, what a wonderful comment with two great quotes, Brian! And the way you put it “grateful for the friends who help us pull ourselves out of the muck.” Yes! Happy Thanksgiving to you!
You are a gracious woman. Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday to celebrate, there’s so much emphasis on *gathering* together. The *thankful* part I get completely, but the who to celebrate with part seems vague to me. Is it just for family or is it more for friends + family? And how do you decide which is which? No answer, just a rhetorical question.
You’re right – it’s tricky. Here’s what I do. I’m happy to do it at my house. If someone else wants to do it then they need to be okay with me, my kids and all the friends and friends of friends that I might bring along. Then we revert to point number 1 – I’m happy to do it at my house… 🙂
“But I’m a little resentful that sometimes the deepest things I learn come from the darkest moments.” I was resentful of those times too, but when I had 4 people give me the almost identical message, “that we choose our troubles before we come into this life” it got me to thinking that’s probably very true, because no one in their right mind would choose to go through the difficulties that bring the lessons. We want to jump to the good stuff don’t we? I used to invite people to our Thanksgiving and Christmas table too, people who were forgotten by everyone else in the congregation, and we had a wonderful time together. As a woman whose marriage ended because of a cheating husband too, I insisted he be with her and not with us. Initially they lived 1000 miles away so ha was alone or with friends, I don’t know, I didn’t ask, nor did I care to. I think at that time you were still putting others perceived needs ahead of yours, and you hadn’t yet learned to draw the line in the sand.
I’m in awe of how you have grown so much since then.
A lovely and wise comment as always, Tamara. Very good question – who in their right mind would choose to go through those difficulties! And thank you, I do hope that I’ve grown in these 13 years – it feels that way.
Happy Thanksgiving to you!!
That makes me very happy to hear!
Your friend sounds like she is very thoughtful. This is such a good definition of friendship and definitely something to be grateful for. Have a lovely Thanksgiving!
You are so right – friends like Jill are definitely something to be grateful for! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving too!
Oh what a beautiful post!
I love each of your “A friend who…”
To quote the age old quote, “A friend in need is a friend indeed!”
I am thankful for meeting you and for your lovely, insightful and inspiring posts.
Stay blessed, Wynne.
I’m so thankful for you, Chaya! I appreciate your gentle, insightful and kind perspective in my life!
That’s a perfect adage for this post. And I love that your closing is “stay blessed” because it recognizes how blessed we already are. Thank you my friend – sending the same back to you!
What a lovely article on friendship Wynne!
The anonymous it’s me, Cristiana!
Thank you, Cristiana! So grateful that you’ve become one of my friends this year! Sending a lot of gratitude for you!
The anonymous comment is from me , Cristiana
Happy thanksgiving Wynne. Another beautiful post. I think gratitude is the best way to find meaning in the present. It’s especially important during those trying times in our lives. Thank you for the uplifting post 🙏
I’m so glad you liked it. I agree about gratitude leading to meaning. Thank you for the uplifting comment, AP2!
You are a shining example of grace as I am sure not many would invite their exes to holiday dinner. Jill sounds amazing, and I love the beautiful words of Saint Martin “My friends are the beings through whom God loves me.” Thank you for sharing!
Thanks, MSW. I love that Saint Martin quote and think of it often. Thank you so much for the generous and lovely comment!
Happy Thanksgiving Wynne, you’re one of the bloggers I’m very grateful to have met.
Oh, thank you, SS&GP! I’m so grateful to have met you!
Your line about being resentful that it’s the darkest times where/when you learn things. I would consider that your silver lining moment, and I think of the annoying, though accurate, cliche: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I imagine that’s accurate for what you went through. And it led you to your kids.
God bless, Jill. She was a real hero that year. I’m so glad you have her in your life. And no doubt vice versa.
Oh, you nailed this comment, Betsy. Yes, it did make me stronger and led me to my kids. I couldn’t be more grateful.
And you also nailed it about Jill. Damn, we’ve had some life adventures together – lots of mountains, lots of wine… 🙂
I’m grateful to have you as a friend too!! Different adventures but still so appreciated!
I’ll just say, you are way more charitable than I ever was with my ex!
Ha, ha. Well, we kept it amicable for the dog’s sake.