Gypsy ThanksgivingThis is the first time in a long time that I am home for Thanksgiving. My home, the home I grew up in, with my blood relatives all around (making a lot of racket at the moment). I’ve missed this. And I’m grateful for it.

But I would be remiss to overlook my Thanksgivings past. There was the South Carolina Thanksgiving where my cousin and I woke up to Kahlua cake. This was the prototype for a wedding cake that his mother was making, and in our favor, this first cake didn’t turn out. We sat on the floor and feasted on cake that had been tossed into a cardboard box. The second cake turned out and we were not allowed to touch it.

And in all my years of working in restaurants, in five different states no less, only one, Söntés in Minnesota, offered itself as a gathering place for Thanksgiving for its far-from-home staff and for any regular guests who wanted to enjoy a gourmet potluck. It was not a work day; the doors remained locked. But a wave at the window got everyone in to warmth, food, and laughter.

In the last few years, I have been privy to dinner at the house of some very good friends. Four generations, including in-law relatives and those of us not related, would gather around the table and enjoy traditional (local and foreign) foods and camaraderie as one, big, crazy family. After dinner, we all did the dishes together, which to me, is the mark of true family inclusion. Guests get waited on, and are treated to the spotless areas of the house. Family tells stories in the messy kitchen and snacks on leftovers straight from the pan.

I have so much gratitude, not just today, but every day for my home and family, and for all of my second families who’ve welcomed me in over these wandering, writing, gypsy years. May I pay this love forward, with my every step.

Happy Thanksgiving, to you and all of “yours”!

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see