Fall leavesWe’re having 20 people here for Thanksgiving. We just bought a new-to-us house, and since we have the largest gathering space, we are now committed to having every family gathering here ad infinitum. Which is great for a few reasons (no, I’m not being sarcastic).

One, I’m gluten free, which means I get to make an entirely separate Thanksgiving meal for myself. Yay, more pie for me! But also, boo, because I have to be careful if I sample anyone else’s dishes. I don’t want to be sick for three days. It’s nice not to schlepp a whole meal over to someone else’s house and worry that someone will use the gluten-y knife to cut my gluten-free pie. If you have food allergies, you know what a minefield these kinds of gathering can be.

Two, I have a son with autism. With 20 people, even people he likes, it can be too much. Having his own space to retreat to when he’s feeling overwhelmed makes the situation easier on him, and me.

Everyone has their own memories, views, and expectations about holidays, especially one centered around food such as Thanksgiving. Special dishes, traditions, and memories infuse this holiday. But keep in mind that for people with any kind of special need–food, emotional, recent loss, far-away family–holidays can be a bit tough. Treat everyone with a bit of extra grace this time of year, because you never know who will need it.

Happy Thanksgiving!