If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton
My Thanksgiving holiday began yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock when I left my classroom until next Monday morning. Today [Wednesday before] is always a day of cooking and preparation for the holiday.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Jason always says that it is his favorite. There is no pressure to buy gifts or decorate extensively. It is a simple, beautiful holiday that is all about abundance– family, food, laughter. We meet at Shana’s house in Wake Forest and everyone brings food. We used to go to Wilmington to Mom’s but she finally found that she could not handle all of us descending upon her with our families that were expanding so quickly. The chaos of all of us staying in her house, even given its size, was just too much and she found it exhausting instead of exhilarating. So, now she comes to us. Shana volunteered to be the host for this annual event at least 5 years ago- maybe more. She & Scott and the kids wouldn’t have it any other way. Mom makes a huge turkey and Scott likes making his alternative Turkey– sometimes deep-fried, sometimes cooked in a pit, or under a large trashcan. Hannah likes decorating and making her homemade applesauce. Mom makes her s’mores on sticks for all the kids. I always make the greens, this year they will be curly kale, organic, from Whole Foods made with uncured smoked and peppered bacon. I also make sauerkraut with diced apples and bacon, corn pudding, and tiny chocolate pie tarts for the kids [Jim loves them too]. I might get ambitious and make a Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake. Every year there is family, Mom, Jim, us three girls and our families, sometimes Julian, Andrew & now Courtney, and most years there are also others. Last year, Scott’s cousins from MI joined us along with my new friend, Duane. Duane will be back this year with his kids. In some other years we have had other random guests– our coworkers or friends with no family close by. Each year we take family photos, some of us for our holiday cards- and Mom always wants one of her grandchildren. This one is from two years ago– 2008. It was my boys’ first Thanksgiving after losing their Daddy. Before we divorced, when Thanksgiving was still in Wilmington, Kenney would have a huge pig pickin’ or oyster roast at his parents that weekend and/or again on New Year’s Eve each year, so these holidays are times Jason & Alex remember their Daddy cooking and entertaining and making things happen at his parents’ home in Myrtle Grove.
So far, Mom has 10 grandchildren including Jenny and 2 great-grandchildren and another about to arrive at any time– Cooper Thomas Whitman will be her 3rd great-grandchild bringing the grand total to 13!
Thanksgiving is a holiday centered on gratitude and over the past ten years or so, I have truly come to realize what a sacred gift gratitude really is. I have always expected goodness in my life, and that is what I have received. I have had my trials, some more challenging than I ever dreamed I would face. I have felt deep emotional pain, fear, and doubt; but underlying any adversity in my life, I have always been able to draw from a reservoir of hope. I continually believe that good triumphs over evil- not only in the world at large- but in my small world. I look for it and I find it every time. In between times of great sorrow or happiness, I simmer gratitude.
I have so many things in my life to be grateful for: my children are smart, healthy, happy, and they are close to me– they make me laugh daily. I am surrounded by dozens of other children who also give me great joy– Cameron, my students, my foster children, nieces and nephews, and children of friends. I not only have a job– I have two that I love. I am healthy enough to work hard and sleep deeply each night. I am in love with a man who is kind, funny, loving, and gracious. I am blessed with two sisters and close friends to share stories, secrets, and laughter. I find beauty in small things every single day.
And so, this Thanksgiving, I will savor every moment of a day shared with the people I love most in the world, and the prayer I will live this day will be: ‘thank you.’
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls “ blossom.” — Marcel Proust