Gratitude Sunday: Thankful For A Warm Heart

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

Sunday Haiku
Longer, colder nights
herald winter solstice moon,
return of the light.

Sunday Musings
It’s Thanksgiving week! I had an essay started for this week and then the calendar jumped out at me. I know these dates come around, but holidays seem to sneak up on me. Maybe I’m not paying enough attention. I’m not terribly fond of the holidays anyway; that could be part of it. Perhaps my crankiness gives me calendar blindness. Or perhaps it feels like undue pressure (media-provoked) to have these artificially fabulous gatherings and festivities. It’s never like the movies or TV, is it?

What does that word mean, Thanksgiving? I’m not talking about how it started, because that was some pretty controversial stuff, claiming land that was already occupied. I’m talking about what we do with this holiday now, today, in this world and this culture. What are we celebrating? Are we celebrating a successful harvest? Are we celebrating thankfulness? Are we celebrating giving? What does giving thanks mean? Who are we giving thanks to or what for? Are we celebrating National Turkey Day so turkey farmers can stay in business? Or a day off work? Do I ask too many questions?

As you can see I started thinking too much about a word. When I was a child Thanksgiving just was. It was a day family came over and filled my mom’s tiny World War 2 postage stamp home with stories and laughter. A day full of cooking smells, delicious food, and a warm house so full of people we had to open doors even on the coldest of days. A day of siblings and cousins chasing each other around the yard, playing board games together, learning to help in the kitchen. We didn’t take time to go around the room and each one offer our words of thanks, but you could feel how glad we were to be together.

Then I became older and Thanksgiving became a chore. Preparing, fixing, peeling, baking, roasting, the timing of it all, the food successes and failures (to this day I can’t make gravy), cooking all day only to have the eating over in a brief 20 minutes and two hours of clean-up yet to go. And the parts I didn’t notice as a kid: the drinking, the disagreements, the underlying unspoken competition of who was living the best life or making the most money. The conversations that should never have taken place before you sit down to a meal together, like when a beloved uncle who hasn’t seen you for a while says, “You’ve gotten quite fat, haven’t you?” to which you respond, “Hwell, enough said about that.” Like you didn’t know you were fat and needed a reminder before you ate, but you don’t stop loving him because he is your favorite and actually bothered to rescue you a few times. And I committed the ultimate faux pas by choosing a spouse who did not bond with my family.

For many years I avoided Thanksgiving altogether, and my more than two hour drive from family was a convenient excuse. I couldn’t face it: the judgment in the eyes of others who did not understand poverty is not something you strive for, but something that can happen to you despite all your striving otherwise. The whispers you caught the faintest earful of. The dignity of not responding, but the pain of knowing they shared what they thought with others. The knowledge that you knew something they did not about survival, and the conviction they knew it as well, but were too insecure or ashamed or superior to share or empathize.

That’s not to say every Thanksgiving has been a pile of misery. There have been good times, as well. I moved back closer to family, and I got older and better at letting things roll off my back (because, of course, I always say and do exactly the right thing, said facetiously). My mom had a late November birthday that sometimes fell on Thanksgiving Day. When I was closer it was easier to attend the festivities. The hubster refused to go and cooked his own dinner, inviting neighbors who had no other family close. As the years went by I always went to Mom’s, or spent the day with whatever family Mom was with, telling the hubster that until Mom passed away I would be spending the holiday with her. Now she’s gone and it’s all fallen apart. We are re-creating the event in our own separate ways. The first year after Mom passed I hosted Thanksgiving and like most things I host, it was a pretty good bomb. No worries, we ate, and we laughed, but meh. We haven’t done it again. I can’t any more. The spirit is willing but the body betrays.

Today as I contemplate that word, it becomes what it is: a word. Are we thankful? I am. I have much to be thankful for, that I still breathe in this crazy world, that my eyes and heart are open, that I have the tenuous privacy of my own home, that two or three of us share a meal. Are we giving? I have been reduced in my giving, because I have been reduced as a citizen, as a senior, as an employee, as a contributor, as an able body. What I have left to give are words and a few material things nobody wants. Are we giving thanks? How do I give thanks to a cold world that seems so disconnected? We ignore the cold world and function within a warm heart.

Isn’t that what we do? We give what we have and what we can. No matter. I take my Thanksgiving the way I take it. It’s mine. It’s simple. It’s private, shared only with the air around me and the breath I take. I have to ignore the cold world, and focus on one person at a time, the person inside me, or the person in front of me.

So here’s what I have to give, because what I have is words: I thank the wind and the sky and the trees and the sun and the rain and the air and the soil. I thank my crazy aging body, my blood and cells, my soft wrinkling skin, my whitening hair for the things I can still do. I thank a small group of humans who encourage me. I thank the warm world for art and the people who create it. I thank my spirit in this world of being able to think beyond myself, and thank others who do the same. I thank the duplicity of me, my cold hard mean heart, and my warm caring loving heart, embracing the complexity of being human. I thank another year for the journey.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Color abounds if you look. A lone yellow, orange, and red leaf resting on a green and gray bed. Red burning bush. Grammy’s pink and white Thanksgiving cactus. Bright red berries, pale pink starbursts, soft green leaves.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} In honor of Veteran’s Day I watched Hacksaw Ridge (2016, rated R) about World War 2 army medic Desmond Doss, who is a conscientious objector and refuses to carry a gun. He rescues 75 injured men after being derided as a coward. There was enough graphic war gore (bodies, parts, on fire, flying, Hollywood) to last me for the year until next year’s war movie. Here’s the thing, at least my two cents: I hate war (I try never to say hate). I don’t think our men (and war/military is predominantly men) should see this gore. I don’t think our men should learn this war. I don’t think our men should come home missing parts and pieces of their bodies and souls because of war. I don’t know how to change it but I hate it. * My Cousin Rachel (2017, rated PG – 13) an adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier novel. A murder mystery, or was it? Did she, or didn’t she? Du Maurier was accomplished at the art of irresolution, and this version does not fail her. * Bad Moms (2016, rated R), seeking comedic relief. I loved this predominantly female cast and it was satisfying to see the “bad moms” win against the bully moms. There are few really “bad moms” as we have to make it up as we go along with very little help. And while I’m rather fond of colorful expletive-style language, well, sometimes it’s overused.

Currently ReadingThe Child Finder (2017, fiction) by Rene Denfeld. So good I turned around and read it again. Just as good the second time. Recommended. * The Misfit’s Manifesto (2017, social psychology) by Lidia Yuknavitch, based on her TED talk, The Beauty of Being a Misfit. Art saves some people, but I suspect a sense of belonging has as large an effect.

Quote of the Week – “There is never hope. There is only what can be done and what cannot.” from The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The woman at the store who saw I had only one item and offered to let me go ahead of her. Thank you.
  • Less than five weeks to the return of the light.
  • Getting some holiday plans in place.
  • Grandma’s Thanksgiving cactus blooming on schedule. Grammy’s been gone more than 30 years now and she had the bush a long time before I got it. One of the few indoor plants I haven’t managed to kill.
  • The clean-up continues. I have lovely things to clean. Having enough to keep me busy for years.
  • Opening doors, even with the cooled autumn air, while I clean.
  • Preparation for Christmas tree space begins. Confidence I will find the right sized tree in my limited price range.
  • Enjoying changing where my stuff lives around me.
  • Planning a Thanksgiving meal without turkey because hubster requested chicken this year. Making it easy with Costco rotisserie chicken, easy to re-heat for serving.
  • The ability to continue learning and thinking.
  • Curiosity, nosiness, and imagination.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Homemaking, Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: Thankful For A Warm Heart

  1. piratesorka says:

    I used to be part of the family’s Thanksgiving feast and festivities at my great Aunt’s house which was a ranch style that had the large dining room spill into the short hallway that spilled into the large living room We had a grand time and those who did not fall asleep watching “The Game” would be found at a special card game called Tripoli and we gambled with Pennies! Ooo high stakes! Great fun….then I went to CAlifornia and Thanksgiving became a crap shoot.. Nowdays its just as bad..Sometimes its good sometimes bad but generally mediorce. I was furlous with the “sisters and nieces” who pored over the Black Friday sales and then left early so they could get up at the crack of whatever to go buy socks and other stupidity. This year I will be picked up and taken….somewhere.. I currently am without a car and I am unsure if the verdict will be good enough to resurrect it or say goodby to my wonderful Honda. Oh and I am struggling with disability/ Social Security stuff now….Everything is painful


    • sassy kas says:

      As hard as we worked, for more than 40 years of our lives in service to America, to ensure a peaceful retirement it all seems blown to hell and sometimes even more difficult than the working years. I blame money, that great equalizer, of which you and I have never had much and still have very little.


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