by bam

welcome to the fourth annual marking of steering-clear-of-commerce, the day after that great feast of thanks when most of western civilization seems to crank up the greedy and run, grab and dash for the nearest big-box extravaganza.

why, news reports already tell us of the lovely southern california woman who hauled out her red pepper spray last night at a wal-mart, while crushing in lines for an x-box, and let rip on the shoppers and children huddled around her.

makes me want to run to the woods and holler.

but then, running to the woods is the whole point of the chair’s annual backs-to-the-mall celebration, as we attempt in our collective ways to battle the rampant commercialism and turn instead to the contemplative powers of very full bellies, and very deep thanks.

and so, we begin.

my long list of bounties this year, the sumptuous morsels that stuff full my heart, begins but does not end with the simple fact that there are two boys asleep in beds not far over my head.

there is a long and muscular fellow who these past delicious days has been showering me with the through-and-through sense that he is the very same fellow we dropped at the college gate. only perhaps he’s been thinking harder than in a very long time. perhaps, too, he’s traveled landscapes far livelier than the ones he traveled when anchored here in the leafy little town we call home.

no small feat, this reunion of hearts, discovering the boy who’s been gone, who’s been decidedly far-off in miles and minimal emails, is in fact still deeply connected, seamless, and, yes, he still makes me laugh so hard i am gasping for air.

right up with that blessing, come the ones that spring from the little fellow who has not left the roost. the one who leads with his heart. the one who leapt right into the lap of his big brother the other eve, thought nothing of plopping himself like a second scoop of ice cream into the very same chair, a kid who cannot stop oozing a rare brand of tenderness. it’s as if he knows as deeply as i do that the simple act of his being here is nothing short of answered prayer, science-defying miracle.

this old house is a blessing, too. the way it reaches out and wraps me in its sun-streaming windows, creaky old floor boards. the clouds of heat that come from the firehouse stove, the one that simply and solidly cooks up whatever i ask.

and then there is the garden that wraps this house, that nestles it into its place on the planet. the grove of old pines, the branches that each and every spring welcome the wren, and in winter harbor the hawk, the hawk who makes me shudder, afraid as i am to watch him swoop down and capture his lunch.

of all the gifts that garden brings, and it brings many, it’s being home and feast for the birds that i count as its most sacred calling. for there is something about the flutterings of the birds, the way that scarlet banner, the cardinal, posts himself just beyond the window, the way the blue jay rattles the bush, and the sparrows keep up their chatter, that sings to the depth of my soul.

i might be among the few who salute the cloudy skies of november on my long list of blessings. ah, but those angora gray skies, they comfort me, hold me solidly, harbor me.

yes, sunlight streaming in is a beautiful thing, but it’s almost too awake for me. i’ll take the somnolence, the introspection of a gray day any day.

and i’d be amiss if i did not mention how grateful i am for hearts that continue to tick, day in and day out, despite the trials we toss their way, as we worry and fret, then, without notice, shriek in deep joy and excitement. poor ol’ heart, the one that landed in me, might not have realized it was signed on for a roller-coaster ride of significant proportion.

i am deeply grateful for the creature comforts that await me each morn when i rise from my bed. for the coffee beans that sit on the shelf of the freezer. for the cranberry-studded corn bread that fuels most of my mornings. for the old blue calico pitcher that charms me. and the coffee mug that fits snug in my palm.

i am grateful for the schoolhouse clock that ticks on the wall.

and the smiles that greet me along my way, from the security guard who sits in the lobby of the tall gothic tower where i go to work each tuesday through thursday, to the checkers at my grocery store, the ones who know the names of my boys and who can tell who’s home for dinner by the plenty i toss on the checkout line.

i am grateful for a mama who comes two times each week to cook up a dinner, and tend to the boy who walks home from the bus stop.

i am grateful for faraway family, the ones who keep watch from afar, and who relentlessly believe in us, most especially the ones in new jersey.

i am grateful for a brother and sister in maine who seamlessly weave themselves into our every day, despite the thousand-plus miles. i am so deeply grateful that the woman my brother married is now, in every way, my sister. i am grateful for each one of my four beautiful brothers. and, too, for my new york city sister who regales me with tales from the front and keeps me in stitches.

i am eternally grateful for friends, most especially for the ones who pull up their chairs, and offer up words of wisdom, and unfading love.

i am grateful for the chorus of saints in my life, the ones i turn to when i don’t understand the ways of the world, or need to talk through some nettling worry. i am grateful for strangers who dish up kindness. i am grateful for neighbors who come to my door with platters of cookies and tubs of tomatoes.

i am grateful for anyone who loves words, and most especially for anyone who tells a great tale. i am grateful for old friends, and ones i discovered as recently as just last week.

i am grateful for editors who dollop careful consideration.

i’m not supposed to write about him here, but i am mighty grateful for that tall fellow i married, the one who’s stuck by my side on our considerable journey, the one who helps me steer this sometimes teetering ship. the one who has taught our boys to be very fine men. the one i still love to listen to, across any dinner table. but most especially one filled with great minds, and great hearts.

i am grateful, come to think of it, for all the old tables in this house. the ones where i set out the plates, the banged-up hand-me-down blue willows, or the lipstick-red diner china.

of all the treasures in my life, most often it’s the spread at the table that captures the deepest richest deliciousness. it’s where bellies are filled, but far more so, where lessons are learned, and laughter is launched.

if there is a birthplace for bounty, it’s right at the table, the one rung with so many chairs.

happy day of bountiful blessings, my chair friends, so many blessings and marvels they spill straight from thanksgiving onto the glorious annual day after. no discounts allowed.

what’s on your list of bountiful blessings?
and, before i sign off, happy blessed birthday to our sweet sweet azk, a father-in-law for the ages, a wise man, a good man, a gentle man. big big hug, and many wishes for yet another bountiful year. love, bam xoxox

p.s. that spread up above, that was turkey day brunch at my house yesterday, while the tv blared football, and my sweet baby bro from toledo with his beautiful wife drove in for a day of feasting. i was mighty grateful to get to do that spread, my one dollop of turkey-day cooking and baking….