Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving in Context

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If you read my blog regularly than you know that I'm affectionately devoted to the idea that what you do, and what you eat, what you celebrate and how you love others matters a great deal. But as Thanksgiving approaches I've had to re-learn that it's actually what you think about that matters most.

Of course I'm all about the food too. I've tried half a dozen sweet potato recipes over the past eleven months in order to decide which one is actually "the best" (Ruth Chris' recipe is my favorite!). But when you whittle the major holidays down to their essence, when you move past the travel plans and recipe hunts, table decorations and seating charts, what is left is the Why does this matter? I happen to love the why does this matter question.

The other day I stopped by a friend's house and right in her entry way was a huge poster board that read, We Are Thankful For... Beneath that phrase there were words and responses filled in by both parents and little hands. The next day I visited another friend and in her kitchen stood a huge chalkboard with a similar list. It is the middle of November. I've been talking excitedly with my girls for weeks about our fun Thanksgiving plans this year, but I forgot about the Why does this matter. We forgot to start the month with a discussion about gratitude. I know we would have eventually gotten there, maybe while gathered around the Thanksgiving table. But I'm disappointed that it wasn't our natural starting point, especially when our family has so much to be thankful for this year.

My last few posts suggest that I'm wholly absorbed by holiday fever. In fact, one might conclude that based on my writing I'm oblivious or indifferent to the presidential election, to my friend's intense struggle with cancer when we all though she "beat it" several years ago, the hurricane and storms that affected people I know, or any of the other "real life" struggles happening in my home, neighborhood, and country.This isn't the case. After so many hard months of pregnancy I'm simply determined to see the holidays as a focal point to look toward. Something bright and happy amid the disarray. It's gray outside and there are plenty of days when I try not to feel gray on the inside, but despite the hard things I want to lean toward gratitude. I want to remain attentive to the high points and allow the low points to work themselves out. We all have our methods; some people make lists while others kneel in prayer. I'm trying to do both. But my bottom line is that writing about the holidays and looking forward isn't so much a way to insulate me from reality, but to help me remember that it ain't all bad.

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