Thanksgiving for the U.S. was Nov 22 2012.
My sort-of-Thanksgiving was Friday, Nov 23 2012.
In the Past.
My family would give a toast at the holidays each year which was more of a wish/prayer/hope for things to be better the following year. Sadly our desire for things to improve in the future never seemed to work out as we wanted. I lost my last family over a decade ago. Since then, I’ve tried celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends and their families but I always end up more depressed than I do when alone for the day—so I don’t do that anymore.
Re “thanksgiving”, I’ve been reminded many times recently that proper courtesy toward God is to praise and thank Him—specifically to attend to these duties first—before moving on to petitionary prayers, followed by being still. (Psalm 46:10, “Be still & know that I am God.”)
Is it possible to be praise- and thank-challenged? Not really of course, but I sure act like I am. Most of the time, I begin prayers with something like, “Help!” I’ve been working on this—just not making much progress. Given all of His blessings, not least of which is having been created by Him because He wanted to and then always being loved by Him even when I mess up, why is it so difficult for me to find reasons to praise Him before I say anything else?
The Previous Day, aka the day other people call “Thanksgiving”.
As I’ve done for over a decade now, I resolved ahead to ignore Thanksgiving. This year, I did watch more of the Macy’s Parade than I usually do but I didn’t see the whole thing. Having been dubiously rewarded by a glimpse of Justin Bieber—which provided my first data on his appearance—I lost the little interest I had in the parade and turned off the sound. Time to get caught up on various tasks.
“Ignoring The Day” went well until J from Stephen Ministry called me that afternoon. She said that she wanted to bring something over. Was that okay with me? I said, yes, of course! I love talking to J every Thursday morning—it’s one of the high points of my week! But I suspected that this time she was on more of a mission to feed me T-day related food than to keep me company.
I was right. A half hour later, J came through the door burdened with a Boston Market shopping bag. In it was the expected and a few not-so-expected—turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, a piece of corn bread, apple pie and pumpkin pie. No steaming hot coffee but she did hand me a new mug. It has “Hope” written all over it and Jean decorated it with tiny sparkly-gold poinsettias and a plaid grosgrain ribbon.
Wow! A full—more than full dinner! I thanked her and hugged her and offered her a spiced apple candle in a jar I had been saving for no particular reason. She left almost immediately—drawn back to her house or a relative’s house by the waiting presence of either guests or perhaps hosts.
I was soon alone. Regardless of my efforts to avoid such a scenario, I was also facing a kitchen counter full of Thanksgiving reminders. I began crying as I put things away and heated up my holiday dinner. Never for a minute did I regret sweet J’s kindness! But like a spoiled child, I wanted what I wanted—and that was company not food.
November 23 aka Not-Black-Friday.
I had a long and vivid dream in the wee hours of Friday morning, in which I was an Antebellum spinster living with her widower father. Every week, we both had guests over to our home. For him, the men of the community would gather, smoke cigars and discuss local politics and farm equipment. I hosted a ladies’ sewing and gossiping group at the same time but in a different part of the house. Several women were rude to another woman because she hadn’t attended the last couple of meetings. Furniture kept disappearing but I was the only one who noticed.
I woke up from the dream, very glad it was over. Even “inside the dream” while most everything seemed as it should be, part of my “modern self” felt uncomfortable about the things that perfectly polite and well-meaning people were saying around me. Their sensibilities weren’t mine which made me uneasy. Even while still dreaming, I sensed something was wrong. Was it me or them? Either way, something was off. I was grateful to wake up.
Oh, good. You’re awake.
Soft fur brushed my hand within a minute of my awakening. My Siamese cat Khiva was on the bed and already maneuvering to get a full body message. As always, I was delighted to comply. … Mmm. … Nice. … A pair of contented sighs. Isn’t it wonderful that cats and dogs like to be patted and humans just happen to like touching warm fur? Almost as if Someone had planned it.
Once Khiva let me stand up, I decided to look out my side bedroom window. Let me confess up front that I’ve never been a fan of autumn leaves. To me, when leaves start turning scarlet and gold, all I can think about is that the trees will be bare within weeks and then the weather will get cold and the precipitation treacherous. Given my balance problem, I’ve fallen more times than I care to remember—and that’s without snow and ice on the ground. Like I really need an additional challenge?
However last week when I looked out the same window, for the first time something “clicked”. Several gold-leafed trees maybe 50 years away and lining the edge of Arundel had begun dropping their load. The leaves scattered on the grass bordering the road had reminded me of a frosting of snow. Or maybe the touch of gold leaf—so well named!—on the still green groundcover. I went to see if the leaves were still there. They pretty much were, if less of them than before. Cool!
Before I had a chance to turn away, movement on the opposite side of the road caught my attention. Was that a greyhound running down the sidewalk over there? What was it doing out alone? No human followed after—they would have to have been running to keep up. Or was it not a greyhound? It was difficult to be sure thanks to the distance and the tree branches blocking the view.
With that, the animal veered into the quiet road, heading in the general direction of my apartment. Wow! It was a doe! I had only seen deer here twice since moving in, so I was thrilled to be given another chance.
The doe reached the narrow median just as a car swept down the road on its way to Limestone. Oh no! I was on the verge of praying for the deer when doe and driver saw each other. The car slowed. The doe bounded past in front of it with at least ten feet to spare. Then she swerved to head around my building, on a hooved trajectory that would take her into the woods bordering the apartment complex. I hurried out of the bedroom, hoping to catch a second glimpse of the deer when she ran across the lawn below my balcony. Too slow. Too late. But she had reached safety, and that was all that mattered.
I turned from the balcony windows to find myself half-surrounded by a feline roadblock. Khiva and Vartha both looked up at me expectantly. Oops! Looked like I was “on the clock”. Thanking God for this too, the last of my blessings for that morning, I crouched down to pet both of them simultaneously. Under their tutelage, I’ve developed the knack.
My early Friday thanks-giving was over. On to the day’s duties.