If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the centuries, it’s that you can’t give up on your family, no matter how tempting they make it. -Rick Riordan
A while ago I was looking out my kitchen window practicing gratitude. In the family of seasons, November may not be the prettiest, or the graceful, or the most mercurial, in fact it seems quite pragmatic and unfussy, as it does with ostentatious October and drawing our attention to being more introverted sisters of winter, but it does have those skies.
The classic lead gray that seems to threaten snow even when the temperature is above freezing, and the one that now stands outside my window, with banks of brooding gray clouds that seem oblivious to the tall, billowing white clouds that lie beyond. pile up with huge chips of bright blue between them.
Beautiful, ominous – my favorite kind of sky. Thank you Nov.
I can’t tell you over the years how many people have declared Thanksgiving to be their favorite holiday. Has it always been like this or am I just paying more attention? And what explains this favoritism? The five-day weekend? The apres– football dinner?
A taste for the traditional menu or some of it – the turkey, the gravy, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the pumpkin pie – all items we could eat any time of year, with the understandable exception of the mashed potatoes, rarely do?
Or is it a learned taste for gratitude that may have to develop over the years until we learn that it can be enjoyed as well.
I certainly didn’t know that as a child. I only had eyes for Christmas and didn’t appreciate being dragged to the posh house of my Uncle Buzzy and those once-a-year cousins I barely knew. They weren’t much use to me either, so, relegated to the children’s table, we all sat there in silence until the turkey came, staring at the dish of useless carrot and celery sticks and those filthy fat black olives.
But in the past 65 years I think I’ve also got a taste for my family. I am thankful for all of them, both sides, young, old, living and dead. I wish we could all get together this Thanksgiving, including those cousins, but with all the delicious additions of decades past, to paraphrase “Jaws” Chief Brody, “We need a bigger table.”
Also, after all my anxiety attacks of two weeks ago, I am immensely grateful that my American family may still be intact. The midterm elections turned out to be at least sensible, perhaps the first step towards civility.
Thanks to thousands of our family members, those fearless election workers of integrity, who carried out their duties with graceful efficiency. Thank you. There seems to be something for everyone in the outcomes. No one is too happy, just the way our national family seems to like it.
We may not be exactly ‘cured’, but we seem to be on the road to possible recovery and even renewal. Thanks, America.
Over the years this island has taught me in many ways about family, about belonging, if only because of the fact that as vastly different as we are, we all take the ferry, the occasional curse and eventually, even if we don’t admit it, a benefit to all of us who live here.
I haven’t made an official study of it, but I argue that more of us have encountered each other in the most unlikely places around the world than any small town dwellers of any other place with a comparable year-round population in America.
But even if it’s just on a street corner in New York City or at the Riverhead Walmart, I bet when we meet we feel a special recognition. Because of that ferry and the island it serves, we know each other, even though we’ve never been formally introduced. Thank you, Island, and the ferry we rode on.
This nest of families that we’re all a part of – global, national, community, extended and nuclear, not to mention the “specific” (as in “species”) – are all connected, of course, whether we acknowledge it or not those connections, and no matter how isolated, alienated, or anonymous we feel. We all belong, despite ourselves.
So, wherever you dine tomorrow, and whatever “family” you dine with, have an extra helping of the special sauce, gratitude, and, despite some mixing of metaphors, take advantage of this advice: wear gratitude like a cloak and it will nourish every corner of your life. Thank you, Rumi.