This post was sponsored by T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Growing up, holidays were always spent with family.
I remember being so afraid to ask my parents if I could go with my friends somewhere for Thanksgiving my Freshman year of college. Then being shocked that they said I could! I had just met these people and my parents didn't know them.
That taught me a lesson that I took into adulthood – while Family is important, so are friends who are like family.
Living Life Away from Home
After our first year of marriage, my husband and I moved to North Carolina to start our Master's degrees. We didn't know a soul. We left our comfort zone and friends. It wasn't easy. We joined a small group of people and started building those relationships. We started doing life together, sharing meals, going for walks, hanging out with their families. There were times when it was messy and hard, but it was also beautiful and life-giving.
There is something about community that we all long for. We long to fit somewhere. A place where we are known and loved. Where we can be ourselves and are embraced with open arms. We were made for community.
Sometimes we have to build our own.
While we were in school, we weren't the only ones starting new chapters in our lives. There were other families who left the familiar and chose to start new lives in this place of unknown. While our backgrounds were different, we all came from different places, we all longed for community.
Those relationships built on vulnerability over meals and doing life together are some of my most treasured friendships. Though miles have separated us, and years have gone by, when we do finally get to see each other, it's as if no time has passed.
They aren't just friends.
We spent holidays together because we are family.
For Thanksgiving this year, we weren't sure what was going to happen. We couldn't make it back to the East Coast but didn't have a clear plan of what we were going to do. That's when I got the Facebook message. An invitation to spend Thanksgiving Dinner with a family we didn't really know.
Isn't that what the holidays are about?
Spending time with new friends and family to celebrate our blessings both that day and the whole year.
As we went around the room and each told what we were thankful for (does that make anyone else sweat bullets?!) I said how thankful I was that they invited strangers into their home to celebrate with them.
We were made for community and sometimes you have to get uncomfortable in order to take friendship to the next level of family.
Some of my favorite places to shop for holiday decorations and home goods is at T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods. I love T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods! I'm so excited that there is a HomeGoods super close to my house now. Especially at this time of year because they have everything I need for our friend and family gatherings whether I'm looking for holiday décor or entertaining essentials and gifts for everyone on my list!
In a world where we are pulled in a million directions, the holidays are a great time to reconnect and enjoy the company of our family and friends who are like family.
Gift My Gathering Contest
But this is what I'm most excited about.
T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods understand that family is the greatest gift, even friends who are like family. That's why they decided to host the Gift My Gathering contest! Holidays inspire people to connect and celebrate what truly matters most – each other. This holiday season, they will make it possible for five families from across the U.S. to come together and celebrate at a holiday gathering. How amazing would that be?!
Through November 28th you can visit giftmygathering.com to tell them how they can help you gather with the people that matter most to you this holiday season. They will select five families from across the U.S. and make it possible for them to be together and celebrate with a custom holiday gathering. You can be together with your family this Christmas!!
Disclaimer: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Gift My Gathering is sponsored by The TJX Companies, Inc. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S., D.C. and Puerto Rico, 18 & older. Begins 8:00 a.m. ET on 11/13/17 & ends 11:59 p.m. ET on 11/28/17. For official rules, visit giftmygathering.com.