if i were to pick just one day of the year, one day that has my head swirling to faraway places and faraway times, this would be the one.
it is a day stuffed like a fat november bird, with pure anticipation.
when i was little, it was the day we hopped in the station wagon and drove straight through to ohio, to the ivy-covered house on the hill, the one with the yellow-spackled kitchen floors that gave just a bit under your shoes, the one with the aluminum tin on the counter, stuffed with layer upon layer of cut-out turkey cookies, my grandma’s first nod to the weekend of feasting, each brown-edged beauty nestled on a bed of wax paper, stacked clear to the rim. so quickly, we got to the crumbs on the bottom.
in college, it was the day i got to go home, leave behind the loneliness that seeped in somehow by end of semester. back to my growing-up room with the windows up in the trees. back to the sounds of my papa typing, and my mama making a fuss in the kitchen.
it’s the day you don’t want to find yourself in the grocery store. it’s the day you want to be nestled in the kitchen, or at least thinking about kitchens. it’s the day i yearn to be settling in, not far from the stove, making a clatter with pots and pans and mixing bowls. even a roaster, with lid, the sort that could shatter your foot if it dropped there.
one of these years that fat bird will be in my oven, but not yet. i am still waiting. my mama’s not ready to give up the bird.
so this year, i got up early to stir pumpkin into the sifted mound of flour and sugar and cinnamon. to crack eggs, dollop oil, fold in cranberries. one lonely loaf is all i am making this year. we’re flying tomorrow. to new york city, as apt a place to spend thanksgiving as just about any. save for the woods of vermont, maybe, where i wouldn’t mind tromping through crunching trails of leaves fallen, up to an old creaking house where windows glow from the inside, where cider and bird await, where i could make like a pilgrim and feast.
new york, the antithesis of the woods, calls me too, though. the shop windows frosted with november’s chill breath. the hustling and bustling. the armloads of boxes, loaves wrapped in red bows.
oh, i’ll take a new york thanksgiving.
but before i throw a few things in the one bag we’re allowed, i thought i’d pull up a chair and tick off the things for which i am sooo deeply grateful, so thankful. the things that fill me with grace, that offer promise and hope, the things that each and every day make me thank God i’m alive.
in no particular order, other than the way they hum from my head:
thank you, Maker of All, for the winged blessings that hop on my sill, that tuck their shivering selves into the branches that brush up against my windows. thank you for catching my breath, stopping me, carrying a wisp of my heart off on the wings that lift up each flight.
thank you, Mother of Mothers, for making me one–a woman who knows what it is to carry within the whole story of two children who, over the years, have bored deep and through my heart, have stretched me and filled me in ways i never ever could have imagined, have prayed for. thank you for catching my breath, for filling my arms, for the tousled heads that are mine to kiss as long and as often as i wish (long as no one’s around to witness said kisses, to make the still-round cheeks of those boys blush deep rose to red).
thank you for fires that roar and logs that crackle. thank you for the one that’s turning the so-called sleeping room, across from the kitchen, into a chamber of flickering gold.
thank you for the two lumps under blankets, snoozing by the fire as i sit here, now typing.
thank you for the gray-striped cat that’s delighted and charmed us all these many years. the one that now meows by the door, not yet figuring out that it’s 40-some degrees outside. and drizzly with rain. hardly weather for cats with finicky paws.
thank you for the great good souls i discovered this year, the ones i fell in love with, the ones whose stories i now know, whose burdens i wear like a heavy thick coat.
thank you, Lighter of Night, for the cloak of darkness that comes early now, velvety backdrop for twinkling of stars, and moon that holds me, most every eve, in its trance.
thank you for the gorgeous women who type beside me each and every day i troop into the office, those great good souls whose laughter is balm for all that stings and threatens to strangle, whose wide-eyed indignation at all the right twists in the story is sure cure for temptation to leap.
thank you for sister-in-laws, closest thing i know to a blood sister. thank you for the one who cooks today so we can feast tomorrow. thank you for the ones faraway who i will miss tomorrow.
thank you for 9-year-old boys and 17-year-old ones, and the eight-year gap in between that allows me this most spicy soup that is my two-track life–on one hand teaching the little one how to tie laces on basketball shoes, on the other listening deep into the night to whatever fills a thinking teenager’s heart.
thank you for brothers, ones who fill in my gaps, and share the same flashlight into the past. ones who grew up in the same house as me, heard the same sounds, knew of the rooster next door, and the bend in the road that hid the way to the pond.
thank you for a mother who turned 80 last week and still cooks for us two nights a week.
thank you for jim, the builder, who just today was here digging holes in the garden, putting in posts for my old gothic birdhouse, the one right beyond the kitchen door, and the old country mailbox, the one that holds my garden gloves and clippers so i needn’t shuffle too far when the urge strikes to get muddy.
thank you for hands that never mind mud, hands for which gloves are a farce, a thin-skinned charade, and so rarely worn. even if they are housed in an old country mailbox. good excuse for the box.
thank you for cranberries and brussels sprouts (yes) and white meat of turkey. thank you for wine by the splash, and the way it makes the room go just a wee bit more glow-y, and the laughter and stories unspool not just a wee bit more heartily. thank you too for corn bread stuffing. and friends who make it the way their mamas did, and grandmamas before that.
thank you for that grandma of mine, the one who made turkey cut-outs, and the other one, i never met, but who i’m told, proudly, “could wring a chicken’s neck.”
thank you for dawn, and dusk, dear Lighter of Light, those edges of the night and the day, when the first and the last seeds of illumination are scattered, are rosy.
thank you God for the trees and the gnarly limbs, and the hummingbird now buried deep in my garden.
thank you for candlelight.
thank you for words.
thank you, God, for all of this. and more. so, so much more.
to be continued…..by all of those who wander by, who pull up a chair, and leave just a swatch of their heart….
for each of whom i am so deeply thankful….