Somehow the Thanksgiving plans turned out different than we expected. Like most folks in the US, my images of Thanksgiving include big tables groaning with food surrounded by family and friends. That’s not just a Norman Rockwell fantasy for me. My family both gets along well and cooks well, and Thanksgiving dinner is always a pleasure.
So when my parents announced, months ago, that they would be heading to the opposite coast to spend the holiday with my East Coast siblings, we knew that the holiday would look different, and we talked about friends that we might invite to celebrate the holiday. We would have different faces, but the same effect of feasting and conviviality. And then we kind of never quite figured out who to ask. And then my wife went in for an emergency appendectomy. And so, there we were, a few days out from Thanksgiving, with no real plans.
But hey, we could manage. We’d have a special celebration with just our little family—my slowly-recuperating wife, my daughter and I. Go see a movie. Have some easy-going family time. Choose a couple of favorite Thanksgiving dishes to make and just hang out.
Perhaps this would be a good moment to mention that my daughter is 14. My images of family time and hanging out together don’t usually come out the way I have in mind. Eventually the image of the family gathered around the groaning board devolved into a plan for my daughter to watch the final Twilight movie at the same time and in the same theater that my wife and I watch The Life of Pi. Not quite what I had in mind.
But, you know, it’s OK. Really, gratitude means a lot more in the real world of plans that fall apart than in that all-too-rare perfect world in which everything comes out the way it’s supposed to. I am grateful for my family, even if it’s next to impossible to get the eye-rolling teen to occupy the same space as her less-than-cool mothers for any period of time. I am grateful for my comfortable home, which will not get the thorough cleaning it so desperately needs, since no one is coming over. I am grateful to have enough to eat, even if we end up with In n’ Out Burgers rather than turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving this year.
I am grateful to be here, in this particular place, at this particular time, which is as full as devastation and war and suffering as any other time, and as full of heroes and incredible blessings. However our Thanksgiving Day turns out, I will take a few moments for gratitude. May I remember to do that all of the subsequent days, whether they turn out the way I imagined or not.