My hands smell like cider, oranges and cloves, thanks to the brine I’ve finished making for this year’s turkey.

Our first turkey. We’re hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year.

I have an apron on. I have, admittedly, underestimated the undertaking this would be, despite my prep and planning. When I dumped that 20-pound bird in my sink, with one rubbery thud it seem to announce that I was really, no shit, REALLY, sitting at the grown-ups table this year.

Dear God.

But I’m excited. I love to cook, and while I’m not great at it, I’m getting better. My best meals seem to come when I’m cooking for large groups of people. I’m not sure I subscribe to the idea that everyone expresses their love through their cooking – which, if that’s the case, I seem to say on a regular basis, “I have lukewarm, but sincere feelings for you though I do wish you’d something about your cholesterol levels” – but for me it seems that my best work in the kitchen corresponds with how many people will be sitting around the table to eat it.

(Crap. I need to unearth my good table linens. I do, in fact, own good table linens.)

It’s just me, Scott, my sister and my parents, and AG, of course, though she’s not interested in much non-pureed food at the moment, sans for bananas and apples and puffs. We’ll give her a go at the potatoes, and probably some pumpkin (not pie, just pumpkin), but there’s plenty of time for food, and she’s doing great with what she’s eating. I’m mostly just thrilled to have us all around our table together, and that I don’t have to drive anywhere.

(Shoot. I don’t have enough placesettings for everyone. Crap.)

It’s probably a no-brainer to list here all of the things that I’m thankful for so I won’t. Suffice it to say this year has been an embarrassment of blessings. My marriage. My home. My health. My career. Getting into all of my old clothes. The opportunities I’ve been given to write and perform around town.

My kid.

She’s healthy and well. She’s funny and bright. She’s flirty and inquisitive.

Abigail is rested and safe. Abigail is loved beyond measure.

I read the saddest story today, the story of a couple who came to Chicago to adopt a baby girl. At the last minute, their lives abruptly changed course and the family they thought they’d be by this holiday was not to be. The birth father stepped in, out of nowhere, to take custody of the baby. End of story.

I looked up from my desk and littered, almost literally, were pictures of AG, throughout the last almost nine months of her life. In the subsequent months since recovering from PPD, I’ve not let myself be overwhelmed by guilt for things I have said, things I have thought, things I have done. In that moment, though, there might as well have been a rusty shiv in my side, the pain from the shock of guilt I was feeling was so great.

As I typically have to do, I let it go. Forgave myself again.

But the luck. The fortitude. The blessing. The richness we experience because we were given this gift. And no one can take that – her – away from us. To read about that pain, so searing and visceral, and to realize that even in this short span of time how much we’ve taken for granted?

I am thankful for forgiveness. Without it, I’d be too mired down, missing the good stuff, taking further for granted this family we have. This girl we get to parent. To snuggle with. To giggle with. To love.

I love this little girl with every molecule I have in me. I am privileged to be able to be thankful for her this holiday season.