A different take on Thanksgiving

You don’t want me to bore you with the usual kind of Thanksgiving post, do you?

It would be easy, you know. My family and I are at such a happy point on our journey, and have so many blessings to be thankful for, that I could gleefully fall on my knees and bore both my readers and my Savior with an unimaginative litany expressing our appreciation. We’re blessed our children are in love, and our daughter has had the wedding of her dreams. We’re thankful Jeff has found a job where he feels more appreciated, and we’re thrilled we’ve made it through the first year of my retirement. We’re downright giddy that our son has found employment at which he’s good, useful, well-remunerated, and happy… and we’re so indebted to our darling cousin Shari who put him on the right path. We’re thankful for friends who are kinder than we deserve, for a home we can manage, cars that run, the teeth we have left, and the company of a disreputable passel of pussycats whose questionable hygiene is balanced by their irresistible cuteness.

It’s easy for us to be thankful for those things in our lives that are going well.

But you know what? I want to go deeper than that. I want to express thanks for all the blessings that look like challenges, because those are the ones that strengthen our bond with God and with each other.

I want to thank God that we’re not young anymore. My husband and I no longer have to wonder whether we’ll grow old together; we’ve done it. I have stopped fearing he’ll leave me for someone younger, prettier, smarter, sexier, funnier, or more adept at housecleaning, because at this point in life, I know what keeps him around: good cooking, a quirky and impolitic sense of humor, fierce loyalty, and lust interspersed with laughter.

I remember the days when I’d get out of bed half an hour before he was due to wake up, so that I could put on my makeup and freshen my breath before letting him see me. In due course, this man would see me lying spread-eagle in a hospital bed, screaming like a banshee as his children were born. He even saw me in an emergency room right after I’d left my scalp on Route 287; he stayed with me as I asked whether I still had eyes and teeth, and afterward when my freshly shaved head sported more stitches than Frankenweenie.

I’m thankful he stuck around. I’m thankful that now, every morning, he goes to work without waking me up, even though I look like a drooling whale, and sound like a deaf percussion band. He thinks the noises I make are funny. He looks forward to hearing them again, and comes home to be with me every evening. Tell me that’s not cause for gratitude.

I’m thankful that as I’m aging, my faculties are wearing away gently. My memory is sneaking away in the kindest manner: I cannot remember how books or movies end, so I can experience the same ones over and over without losing interest. My eyesight is filtering as it falters; while I can look in the mirror and see my eyes, nose, and mouth, I cannot see the blemishes that surround them, or the lines that have grown between them. Even my voice has lost its strength; it’s been a long time since I could sing, and years since I’ve been able to produce consistent sound when speaking for more than a few minutes. That has taught me to listen, and what a wonderful discovery it has been! To hear music too sublime for most of us to master; to hear ideas instead of striving to come up with a witty retort. I’ve learned so much since I’ve had to produce more silence. I’m grateful for that, and hope it will continue as long as I do.

I’m thankful for the friends and family with whom we share our days, whether in person or electronically… and who wouldn’t be thankful to live in an age when virtual communication makes continuing life-long friendships possible! Of course, I’m grateful for the good things that are happening in their lives, but I’m also appreciative that they trust me enough to share their vicissitudes. I weep with the ones who are experiencing failing relationships, even as I trust that their companions will take different, better-cast roles in their lives, and that new companions will enter their sphere and bring them unexpected happiness. I fear for the friends who are battling serious illness, but I rejoice whenever one takes a step forward, and avidly pray for the day when their illness will be simply a memory.

But how about the loved ones who don’t make it? I’m grateful for them too. I’m glad to have known them, glad to have loved them, and thankful that they left something of their personality and their essence in my life and in my heart. Two of the moments in my life for which I am most grateful are those which one might conventionally describe as the saddest. My mother died in my arms, and my mother-in-law died with her hand in mine. What a gift it was to be with them as they took their last breaths, and what a privilege it was to make sure they knew they were loved even as they departed this world!

I’m grateful to believe that once we leave this world, we go on to experience a different, more magnificent existence, in the presence of an almighty God who has, thankfully, never ceased to show me that He exists and that He loves. I’m grateful that I’ve always been able to dispel the doubts of the adult by recapturing the wonder of the child. I don’t need to know why things are as they are. I just need to know that Someone Else is in charge… Someone loving, forgiving, and good.

I’m thankful for Thanksgiving… a time to take stock of where we are, what we have, who we’re with, and whose we are. I like to see that, when all is said and done, the life we have is good.

Thank you for reading this… and thank you for being part of my life.

Good bless you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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