Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all who celebrate this day.  Today is not just a day to eat, drink, watch American football, and take acceptable naps. 
Today is a day to give thanks for all that we have and all that we are able to accomplish.  It's a lovely time to have family piled around a table which is way too small for all of them.  And by family, I mean moms and dads, brothers and sisters, mother-in-laws and brother-in-laws and father-in-laws, and dad's friend Jim and our friend Matt who had to go straight to his work after dinner, so came over in his air force uniform.  By family I mean all the people you care about, you love, and you hold dear to you.
This year was particularly meaningful and important to me for several reasons.  This was the first year Ryan and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house in Sandwich.  That might sound stressful, but I am thankful that everyone offered to help, and I accepted.  Meg brought munchies for before dinner.  My mom made the stuffing and came over early to put the turkey in the oven with all it's dressings and fixings.  My sister's mother-in-law, Jane and father-in-law, Jim, made turnip and potato mash as well as a pumpkin pie and hot apple cider.  Ryan helped entertain, carry around chairs, and was at my side every second I needed him to move or lift or pour.  My brother helped with all the dishes.  He is awesome.
I am also thankful for the mere fact at having my whole family with me today.  My dearest friend Danielle lost her brother only two weeks ago.  Nick was 32.  My Ryan's age.  It was sudden, and shocking, and sad.  I have been thinking about Danielle, Chris, and Lenny all day today.  They lost a bright light.  I am grateful that every time I talk to Danielle, she seems to be doing well enough; although, I know she must miss her brother dearly and my heart goes out to her.
Just Saturday past, Ryan and I went to the annual ThanksGathering held by a darling family, the Bells.  You know Bell's Seasoning?  Same family, though they don't own the business--their grandfather sold the recipe to the now owners/makers.  There, Ryan and I engaged in conversations with the tens of other guests, got to show off a little baking, a little flare, and got to gawk at some pretty guitar strumming. 
There, at the Bell abode, I got to talk to several friends.  Iliya, I discovered, smiling, is happy in his challenging new work environment.  He works with struggling children in a struggling city in western mass and has somehow been given the role of basketball coach, just because he's tall. 
Peter was in Iraq over 5 years ago.  He came home safe only to be caught out by some black ice while driving home.  He hit a tree and woke up out of a five day comma.  He suffered brain damage and paralysis.  He forgot almost all of his Arabic except for habibi (a very sweet word, which one says with a gleam in their eye.  it means sweetheart.).  But Peter is getting better after 4 years of slow, frustrating recovery.  He is alive, he is optimistic, and he is an inspiration. 
I was complimented about my macarons, hugged by many.  I talked to a young man about the Gropius House, and architectural history and preservation.  We also talked at all ends of the spectrum on displaced people, refugees.  How not being able to sleep in his own bed while construction takes place in his house makes him a displaced person, although not to the extent someone from New Jersey might currently feel--having to celebrate this holiday in a stadium with thousands of others, or in a stranger's home.
There were talks about technology, about food, about work, about cats (lots of cats), about music, about jam and jelly and military careers and marriages and babies, about happiness and positive neuron pathways.
I didn't, while I was there, talk to a young Ana-Maria, though.  It wasn't until the day after the party that I saw on her facebook page that she felt at odds, at a crossroads.  And I have been meaning to write to her about the time in her life which she is inflicted right now.  I will.  Ana-Maria, I am going to write you a letter.  But I need your address. 
Thankfulness and gratitude take many forms and come in many magnitudes.  I have only begun, only a little, to explore some of the elements of my life for which I am grateful.  There are not enough words, enough pixels, enough keys, to express all that I am thankful for... so I'll save some for another post. 
Be grateful.  Be thankful.  Share love, and be loved.