For many people, Thanksgiving was a very different thing this year from what it has been, what it should be, and what God willing it will be again. Some, like my own family, have been privileged to weather this year with little griefs and minor inconveniences. Others have been less privileged. As I write, my heart is heavy for those who have lost—lost family, lost livelihoods, lost sanity. I look to a future that is uncertain for me, in some ways, but for many it is worse than uncertain. It is hopeless.
Still, it is no sin to give thanks. And so I do.
For the beauty of the leaves in our centerpiece, captured, pressed and dried until the appointed time. For the large ones, commanding a page of the World Book unto themselves. For the baby ones, shaken together and scattered all around. For the red ones, light to wine-dark. For the yellow ones, splotched with orange, shot through with veiny green. For the plain and unremarkable brown.
For the sparkling Rose in our glasses, even if it is only grape juice, because it’s red, and it’s different from our usual white, and it made us happy.
For green bean casserole with French fried onions from a can, because it was creamy and crunchy and delicious, as it always has been and always will be.
For pumpkin pie with Pillsbury dough crust. For the hamster who snatched a bit of it from my sister’s hand, clambering up the cage to get it, gone mad with the scent. For the softness of her fur when we tickle it. For the perfect shape of her tiny nose, in perpetual motion, always visible through the stuffing she conveys, with great ferocious care, from one side of the cage to the other.
For the litter of kittens growing up a couple blocks over, whom we follow on FaceBook and occasionally visit, who like to play king of the hill on stairs and hide in bookshelves and fall asleep on our laps.
For the great maple presiding over our backyard, bearing scars but still standing. For the small neighbor boy who offered to rake the leaves it dropped for ten dollars, only to realize he would get only $3.33 if he invited his two friends, only to invite them anyway. For his adopted little sister and brother, who are always shouting and waving at me when I walk down the street, who always want to show me some new thing. For their mother, who has kind eyes and a brave heart.
For our neighbor Fred, who likes to amble over in one of his tie-dyed shirts and just chat, or let us know if there’s something on the radio we might like.
For our neighbor Dorothy, who no longer lives on our street, whom we visited in a home earlier this year, and visited again more recently, who was wondering whether we had heard of this new disease, coronavirus. For the way she cried and thanked us over, and over, and over, when all we did was take a country drive and sing a few songs at her window.
For my grandmother, who’s old enough now that they don’t sedate her for painful procedures, who asks us to pray because she’s “chicken” but is really the toughest bird I know.
For all this, and for so much more, I give thanks. To the maker of all that is good. To the one whose mercies are ever-new, and in whom there is no shadow of turning, though all shall burn, and all shall pass away.