The turkey is completely defrosted, nestled safely on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. The ingredients for stuffing are set aside, and even though it'll be just Danny and me for Thanksgiving dinner again this year, I'll polish up two place settings of my mom's china, and double Danny's dish duty by putting each menu item in its own serving container. The holiday table will be set with full place settings, candles, napkins, forks, knives, spoons, bread plates, water glasses, etc. It's tradition, after all.
I was proofreading the Gazette's weekly entertainment guide early Tuesday and, as is my habit, I slowed down to savor the featured poet's offering. In it, the poet, Tim Nolan, began by being thankful for Italian chestnuts.
Now, I wouldn't know an Italian chestnut from a New Jersey chestnut, I'm not even sure I would recognize your ordinary, garden-variety chestnut, but I surmise that Italian chestnuts have a special place at the Thanksgiving feast Mr. Nolan enjoys. His poem reveals the natural course of thanks-giving -- the act, not the celebration -- as his gratitude for Italian chestnuts, their tough shells and smooth chocolaty skin, transitions to gratitude for, of all things, boiling water. Gratitude for that leads to gratitude for kitchen utensils, some of which never see the light of day if the day isn't capitalized in true holiday fashion. The theme continues, with the author ending with sweet gratitude for the faces illuminated by the candlelight, for which he also is grateful.
Thanks-giving is like that. One thank-you leads to another, which perforce, leads to another, leading to yet another.
Insomnia seldom visits my world. If I do nothing else well, I sleep well. Just ask my children. They all slept through the night at very early ages, especially considering they were all preemies. It took a lot to wake me up and those few ounces of formula simply weren't worth the trouble.
When sleeplessness does descend, I begin reciting my gratitude alphabet, searching first for an "a" for which I am grateful. Then I look for a "b" and so on.
If I am plagued by a litany of shame and blame I quickly identify the enemy, that roaring lion, who is quickly vanquished, because, as the song says, "the Lord inhabits the praise of his people." When that ravenous wolf is responsible for sheets knotted by tossing and turning, I seldom need travel any farther than the letter 'G."
If, however, it is the Lord who would have a word, that becomes clear by the time I reach the letter "c" and I am grateful to know that if I confess, "he is faithful and just to forgive." (1 John 1:9)
In either case, my tossing and turning ceases, sleep descends like softly falling rain, and I find sweet repose. (I hope never to discover what "z" I am grateful for -- although, for the record, I do think zebras are magnificent.)
Although each day has plenty of trouble (counting those will keep you up for weeks on end), although trial and tribulation visit each of us, at day's end, I dare say, we, each one, have much for which to be thankful. Even though 2012 brought good-byes we never wanted to say; even though 2012 brought lies when the truth would have served far better; even though 2012 brought about betrayals by those we love, it will nevertheless take all of eternity to give voice to the gratitude that lives in our hearts in 2012, because God is, in word, "Love." (1 John 4:16).
"... in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:15 (NASV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know and love the One who does. Let's walk in his love and discover him together.