Nichole Collins MacMillan

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Unexpected Thanksgiving

I should be washing dishes.

Let me correct that.

I could be washing dishes.

But this is important and I need to share it.

(and if you haven’t figured out the difference between should and could, let me introduce you to a good therapist!)


Today was not the Thanksgiving I expected.


Seven days ago, I signed divorce papers.

Even if those papers hadn’t been signed on that day, today would have been different than what I imagined this time last year – or for the 22 years before that.


And, you know what?

It was okay.

It was more than okay.

Tonight, with a sink full of dishes – many of them given at our wedding – I feel grateful for gifts I didn’t know I had… even a week ago.

Thanksgiving River 2017

When the table was cleared and our guests had hit the road and my sons had found friends to hang out with, I took my dogs for a gratitude walk by the river.  (The puppy was a trooper today.  So much temptation.  So little attention from me.  He gets an “A” – and as much of a walk as the fading light would allow.)  I wanted my canine family members to know I appreciated their efforts to sit quietly under the table while we humans navigated too much food and challenging conversation.


Barks Ball River Thanksgiving 2017

And as I walked, I settled into the gratitude I had yet to name, the light I had yet to claim.


When the thing that was the center of the world to you is no longer the center of your world, there is a hole,

a negative space,

an absence,

an emptiness.


And there is grief that goes with the loss.  That grief can at times be overwhelming.


But other times, there is for me the realization that the world holds so much more than I have been accustomed to seeing.

The universe offers an abundance I have ignored, rejected, and been blind to.  It is mine if my hands will just uncurl and say “Yes!”



Today and for the past few months, those gifts have come crashing in on me like relentless waves of goodness and grace.

The waves look like

Text messages

Phone calls

Bath salts left on the doorstep

The gift of a massage


A supper club

A note

A loaf of bread

A baseball cap and a tea towel

A candle

A wine cup

A visit

A book

A plant

The turning of a wrench

Baby ballet shoes






Tonight I am thankful that this new space in my soul is overflowing with a world of gifts waiting for me to notice, to give pause, to give thanks.


If your holidays are holding something you didn’t expect – or aren’t holding something or someone you miss, I pray for you the courage to honor what is gone and then the stillness to recognize the openness in the emptiness.


There is more to fill it than you can ever imagine.

Let it come.

Let it wash over you.

Let it settle you and amaze you and humble you.

Let it fill you with Love and Light.



  • Sarah Erickson on November 24, 2017

    My divorce was final in mid-Nov. 1995. I get it.
    And continue to hold you in the light.

    • nikki macmillan on November 24, 2017

      That’s been a minute, Sarah. You have covered so much ground and are so beautiful for it! Thank you for the Light!

      • Donna Lehman on November 24, 2017

        Wow. Definitely u should continue to write. U have a gift. And I have a gift. And that is u. I am so very happy we reconnected. Much much love to a wonderful supper club hostess. xx

  • Donna Lehman on November 24, 2017

    Well said. U have a gift…writing. And I have a gift… u. I am so happy we have reconnected. U make my world a much better place.

    • nikki macmillan on December 10, 2017

      And you mine, Donna! Love you!

  • Mary Ellen Gurley on November 24, 2017

    Love and light is life for you, too!

    • nikki macmillan on December 10, 2017

      Thank you, sweet sister!

  • Jennifer Johnson on November 25, 2017

    I have been reading *Overcoming Life’s Disappointments* by Harold Kushner who is, next to D. Bonhoeffer, my favorite theologian. I am aching. My chest literally hurts right now reading this. The third time today as I maneuver through my own unexpected episodes of tangents and unknown terrain. Of dreams I held so tightly that I found it hard to breathe. Of goals formulated at 15 that even now call to me like a siren song, but I know now that tying myself to the mast of this broken and mended ship of faith is not about being safe. It is about being alive. Truly alive. And seeing, actually seeing, thankful and humble. For this journey–not where I thought to be, so much less and in the less, a galaxy of abundance.

    I get it now. Well, not yet, but I am closer, close. Thank God. Thank you, God, closer to You, and the me You envisioned.

    So I remember to breathe, and the ache eases.

    Love you, dear Nikki.

    • nikki macmillan on December 10, 2017

      What beautiful thoughts. The book is on order. I love you, girl!

  • Mindy on November 26, 2017

    I kept seeing your TG post every time I’ve looked at Facebook over the past few days. I could not believe that it was finally there again – when I would have expected it to have disappeared forever – and I finally had a chance to look at it. Thank you God for putting it there once again!!!! I am so sorry, yet not terribly surprised. Thank God you have Him!!!!!! I look forward to the new you! The one who is not a tail on Doug’s trail, but who is setting out on her own trail!! Where you gonna’ go? What you gonna’ do??? Take time to figure it out. And if you’d like to visit Philadelphia, PA in the meantime, you’re always welcome at our house!!!!

    My Thanksgiving included having just moved here and knowing no one. Ed’s off on another work trip, but will be home in 2 weeks to retire for good. Then we’re going church shopping and friend hunting. No more lawyering for me!!!

    Hope our paths cross once again, somehow. Yours will be golden, and a year from now you’ll be thrilled with the new life and the new you!!!!!

    • nikki macmillan on December 10, 2017

      Thank you, thank you! Blessings on your new journey!! I love you!

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