‘Tis the season to be grateful…oh, wait, no…‘tis the season to be jolly. But I’m still in a Thanksgiving frame of mind. I feel kind of bad about my post listing what I don’t have…a laptop, a cello, and Niagara Falls. But the truth is, I don’t usually spend much time thinking about what I don’t have. Always, my greatest pleasure is in the simple joys that I do possess.
On Thanksgiving Day, appropriately, I had one of those moments of sheer gratitude and joy. You know, one of those pure moments where you’re not thinking of the bad things that happened yesterday or the worse things that might happen tomorrow…you’re just present in the moment and mindful of the blessing of it.
I was preparing our Thanksgiving feast. We actually hadn’t planned to be here on Thanksgiving Day. We had planned to take a ten mile hike, our backpacks filled with turkey sandwiches and apple bread. But it was pouring rain (which, these days, is itself something to be thankful for). So there I was in the kitchen, puttering happily around, checking on the mashed potatoes, the green beans, the smoked turkey…you know, the usual. The smell in the house was heavenly—oak logs burning in the wood stove, a hint of garlic in the potatoes, and buttery croissants baking in the oven. Tom (my husband) was reading in his recliner; Ariel and Benjamin (my children) were talking and laughing together on the couch, with Benjamin noodling around on his guitar. I was standing at the kitchen window, looking out at the mountains in the fog and thinking how fortunate we were to live in this lovely place, to be in this house—a warm refuge from the cold rain outside.
Benjamin began to sing, strumming the guitar, and Ariel joined in, harmonizing:
You—who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye…
For those of you that don’t recognize the song, it’s Teach Your Children by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I came around the corner and stood listening. Tom put down his book and began to sing along:
And you of tender years
Can’t know the fears
That your elders grew by.
And so please help
Them with your youth
They seek the truth
Before they can die.
I stood there gazing at my family, beaming, my whole being suffused with happiness. They sang on, stumbling over some of the words they didn’t know and sometimes getting a little off-key. But they sang the chorus loud, strong, and sure, especially the last two lines:
…So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.
They finished with a flourish, laughing. I looked at them and sighed with contentment and knew I loved them…beyond imagining.
And then…the kitchen timer rang. I went back to the kitchen, taking the bread out of the oven and adding a little more garlic to the green beans. As I stirred the beans, the tears came, flowing down my face and dropping into the beans. I let them flow and just stirred them in. I put all the food on the table and called everyone to eat.
We said a simple prayer of thanks, passed the dishes around, and dug in. “Mmm,” said Tom. “These green beans are extra good.”
I smiled and said, “Not too salty?”
“No,” he said. “Just right.”
Yes, I thought, as I took a bite of the beans and smiled at my family. Yes indeed.