Happy Thanksgiving, Little Town on the Prairie

by Nov 19, 2014Holidays, Special Needs Parenting2 comments

 Main Street of my little town on the prairie: Camp Crook, South Dakota in 2007

My husband and I weren’t looking forward to our first Thanksgiving as parents of a baby with special needs. The little town on the prairie where we lived was 750 miles from the University of Nebraska hospital in Omaha where our son had already had 2 surgeries, the first when he was less than 24 hours old. The surgeon insisted on scheduling a follow-up appointment before releasing our son after the second surgery. My husband and I couldn’t afford to miss any more work, so the appointment was set for the day after Thanksgiving. We couldn’t afford to travel by plane because of mounting medical bills.

That meant a 15 hour car trip.
On Thanksgiving.
With a 5-month-old who ate through a feeding tube.
Who was allergic to every form of nourishment except breast milk.
Which I had to pump.
During a 15 hour car trip.
On Thanksgiving.
With a 5-month-old who ate through a feeding tube.

Our first Thanksgiving with our baby boy was shaping up to be the worst holiday ever.

Until some friends said they were planning a benefit for us. These friends were also parents of the students in my classroom, the other teachers in the small school. my husband’s co-workers, and our son’s babysitter. In small towns, everybody wears lots of hats. Mostly cowboy hats in this particular town only 2 miles from the Montana and 20 miles from North Dakota. Mostly dusty hats in the drought-stricken years of the early 1980s when every road coming into the town was gravel. Even the state highway.

We soon learned our friends and co-workers wore fund-raising hats with style.

The remainder of this post can be found at the Not Alone Special Needs Parenting website.

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By Jolene

Jolene Philo is the author of the Different Dream series for parents of kids with special needs. She speaks at parenting and special needs conferences around the country. She’s also the creator and host of the Different Dream website. Sharing Love Abundantly With Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilities, which she co-authored with Dr. Gary Chapman, was released in August of 2019 and is available at local bookstores, their bookstore website, and at Amazon.


  1. Jolene

    Hi Sarah,

    Our Thanksgiving is much like Christmas–with no presents and more food. It can be very overwhelming for families of kids with special needs. DifferentDream.com will be running several posts about how to make the holidays less stressful for kids and parents. Maybe some of them will help your family, too.

    All the best,

  2. Sarah Black

    As I live in Australia I haven’t experienced Thanksgiving but I can imagine that like any big celebration event it would be quite overwhelming with a special needs baby. I know as a mum to 5 children 4 of whom are diagnosed with Aspergers Christmas and other celebrations tend to be overwhelming and rather daunting with often lots of melt downs and lots of stress. Just once it would be nice to have day that everyone got on and had a wonderful enjoyable day filled with great memories. Found your blog via Love That Max link up.

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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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