The day before Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel day of the year, bearing out surveys showing our peculiar American holiday of stopping to give thanks is also our most popular. On Thanksgiving, the wheels of commerce grind to a halt, traffic ceases, and the world stops and takes a deep breath before sitting down to a table laden with turkey, stuffing, mashed and sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, corn pudding, peas and, if you're from my family, sauerkraut with neck meat and giblets and with all sorts of other delicacies.
This year, three of our children, with spouses, and all eight grand kids, will join us for the feast, hearkening back to similar feasts at my Grandfather's house. Then, Grandmother, Grand Pop, Aunt Pat and Uncle Ed, Aunt Elsie and Uncle Bun, and my parents and sisters all enjoyed the feast around a table large enough to have room for everybody. This year, the old table, even with all six leaves, will probably not be large enough to seat us all and instead of sitting around the table, we will end up sitting around. Around the table or where ever, it will be good.
Somewhere between the last course and the food and football induced coma that precedes pumpkin pie and coffee, I will slip away and compile a list of things for which I am thankful, carefully writing it out in longhand. On my list, I will attempt to recognize and consciously give thanks for each of the blessings I have enjoyed over the last year.
I will give thanks for life, and the spirit to enjoy it; for paid work and for labors of love that I am able to do. I will give thanks for my wife, soul mate, and life companion. Who would have thought such a thing was possible? I will give thanks for each of my children, all different and all wonderful, and for their spouses. And I will give special thanks for my grand kids one by one, each one unique, each one a blessing. I will give thanks for friends, new, old, and re-discovered, carefully listing each by name. Finally, I will give thanks for food, clothing, shelter and for the comforts, luxuries, and experiences that I have been privileged to enjoy or, if not to enjoy, at least to learn from.
My list will be woefully inadequate. Remembering everything is impossible. But, when I pull my list out over the next year and read it, it will be enough to remind me how lucky I really am, and how greatly I am blessed.
Good food, good friends, good times -- Thanksgiving is all that. But more than that, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect.
So, what will you put at the top of your list this year?