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What I Am Thankful For

Well, it's Thanksgiving again here in America. Today was an orgy of cooking ahead so that there will be time enough to get the rest of it done tomorrow. Today was the sweet potatoes, which will be microwaved and garnished on the day, and portobello mushroom, summer squash, tomato, onion, pinenut, parsley, and mint stuffed vine leaves.

The sweet potatoes are not a big to do, but they hog the microwave at a critical time if they aren't prepared ahead of time. Stuffed vine leaves are one of those dishes that were invented by women living in small villages. They are a pleasant excuse for a good group gossip, many hands making light work, in that kind of setting. For one woman working alone while keeping an eye on an overly active child, they are a pain in the neck to make. But yummy.

Tomorrow will be roast lamb, broiled herbed snow peas, green beans with toasted pine nuts. My aunt will also be bringing kale and a celery-lemon salad.

My poor dear husband (who is not back from work yet, and it's after midnight here) will be making an apple and a pumpkin pie and putting them in the oven for me to take out before he toddles off to bed. Tomorrow he'll do most of the remaining cooking and whip up some diabetic-safe chocolate crepes with espresso whipped topping for my aunt and me, since we can't eat the pie, while I watch the Wirlwind of Destruction and so some last minute cleaning.

But that's not the important part. This is:

In a world where so many go hungry, where one third of my countrymen struggle to feed their kids, we will feast. Yeah, we too are cutting back on spending, and it looks like we will have to sell some stock that we were hoping to save for our daughters' college to finish paying for our son's final year, but the fact is, we have stock. I am thankful.

I love my family of origin, as eclectic and eccentric as we all are. I love our humor, our intelligence, our widely divergent interests, and our ability to enjoy each other. I won the in-law lottery and married into a family that is loving, welcoming, witty, boistrous, fun, and close-knit. They have a talent for loving, committed, deeply devoted marriage that has to be experienced to be believed. My children have the enormous privilege of knowing their second cousins as well as they do their first cousins. I am thankful.

I have four bright, healthy, energetic, interesting, and wonderful kids. Their strengths, their passions, their challenges, and their beauties are all quite different, and they have led me into worlds of experience I never could have predicted or imagined. It takes every bit of intelligence and wisdom I have to stay a step ahead of them until they are launched. One of the greatest joys of spending my days with them has been to watch their wonderful, unique and individual, and clever senses of humor develop before my delighted eyes. I am so very thankful.

I have a handsome, gentle, clever, funny husband who met me at 19, and has watched the 125 lb. competitive swimmer he first knew morph into a 215 lb. mother of four and then back into an active 135 lb. middle-aged woman, and the love and desire in his deep blue eyes never waned, but has always grown. At a family wedding last month he told the groom, a younger cousin of his "You look at your bride with so much love, but you will never again love her less than you do this day." I am humbled, and very, very thankful.

And although I have much to be thankful for, I still have days when I am tired or discouraged, days when parenting has been stressful, when the news I hear has been depressing, days when my molehills have swollen into mountains, days when my soul aches with or without a reason. No matter the depths of my self-pity, the degree of my discouragement, the heat of my frustration, at the end of my day, when I can steal a bit of time to myself to come and play here and turn away from the cares of the day, I have never, ever failed to find something to amuse me, intrigue me, soothe me, or carry me off to the safer worlds of fantasy in the offerings of my f-list. I am thankful for you all.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 25th, 2010 12:08 pm (UTC)
Have a wonderful day! Like you, I am blessed with a loving family, a relatively stable job and good health. There is much for which to be thankful.
Nov. 26th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
There is indeed much to be thankful for. Especially if one tries to form the habit of looking for those things!

It was one of the things that distinguished my short sojourn in the Midwest (four years at Ann Arbor while I did some grad school and my husband did his med school). I met a great many people there with a gift for looking for things to be thankful for. I'm sure that the Midwest has its dour personalities (some of Garrison Kiellor's Norwegian batchelors come to mind), but they seem to be more the exception than the rule, at least in my experience.
Nov. 25th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful post! There is so much to give thanks for and it seems like you have lots of things in your life to celebrate on a day like this! I am thankful that you have so much to be thankful for. :)

That meal of yours sounds absolutely lovely! I love lamb meat. I hope you'll have a wonderful, thankful time with your family and that both the meal is spectacularly delicious and the company as well.
Nov. 26th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
When my dad got up to give the toast at the rehearsal dinner before my wedding, he said that my husband and I "have a gift for contentment". I think that is substantially true. We are both people who tend to look for the bright side, who happen to come from families with strong tendencies to depression. Biochemically lucky, I guess. And we have both led fairly privileged lives.

Two of our four children are adopted out of foster care. We believe firmly that it helps our kids to be able to see the families that they come from, firstly so that they can understand why it is that they had to be placed with us, but also so they can see the good parts of their birth parents, and the fact that their birth parents love them, even if they cannot raise them. Tying our family in this way to two families who have lived far more difficult lives, and were not safe or understood in their childhoods has made it abundantly clear that we are very fortunate indeed.

The saying is that from those who are given much, much is demanded. It seems like saying thank you is the minimum requirement.

And having (by now) feasted? Mmmm. It was yummy! The traditional Thanksgiving feast is based around turkey (so much so that it is often called Turkey Day in fun), but I much prefer lamb! My sisters who will be up visiting my brother-in-law's family today will be having the traditional feast: Turkey, bread-celery-onion-wine stuffing with sage, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, cranberry sauce for the turkey, and gravy for the turkey and the mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.
Nov. 26th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
A gift for contentment, that's a really nice thing to say - and to have! :)

Your Thanksgiving dinner is a bit like our Christmas dinner in the sense that everyone eats what they always have done. Depending on where in the country you live, the meals eaten especially on Christmas Eve but also Christmas Day are very traditional and have to be the same each year. Lamb is actually one of them, or lambribs with boiled potatoes and swedish turnip mash. It's positively lovely. Some have fresh cod with potatoes, carrots and bacon and at least half of us have pork ribs, saurkraut, red cabbage sauerkraut, potatoes and sausage and a kind of meat balls, carrots and peas. Dessert is usually either rice porridge pudding (or something to that effect) or cloudberries with whipped cream. For my part it's not Christmas dinner without those cloudberries. :)

Oh, and I almost forgot the turkey! A lot of people eat turkey on Christmas too, with stuffing and veggies and perhaps even cranberry sauce these days now that it's available here too. I'm more used to turkey being New Year's dinner.

Edited at 2010-11-26 05:48 am (UTC)
Nov. 26th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
I hope one day I can be that thankful. :) Happy Thanksgiving to you! :)
Nov. 26th, 2010 03:33 am (UTC)
The year I was eighteen, my father turned forty. Now I have always figured that aging was better than the alternative, but my father, an extraordinarily handsome man, has always had trouble stomaching the whole aging thing. He turned his fiftieth birthday party into more of a wake than a celebration, but that's a whole other story.

At his fortieth, my father was asked about how he felt, turning forty, and did he mind. He first joked that he didn't mind that his hair was almost totally white, because he'd done better than his own father (who was white at thirty), and at least he'd gotten to keep it all (at the time it was a lovely salt-and-pepper, leaning a bit more to the pepper). Then he thought seriously about his answer, and said that if someone told him that he could go back to his twenties and do it over, he'd turn it down. "All that wanting and striving and not being able to have," he said. "I wouldn't want to do that again."

Those words stuck with me as I went through my own twenties, and I think that was very true. I was struggling to become, but hadn't yet achieved. I was less confident in myself and needed more outside affirmation. The year my daughter was born, when I was 27, we had 25 dollars (this was 1985) in discretionary spending for the month. Two dinners out at McDonald's and that was it for fun money for the month.

So I'm betting that by the time you reach my age, especially if you make a habit of keeping your eyes peeled for the blessings in your life, you will be as thankful or more so than I.

Happy Thanksgiving to you too!
Nov. 27th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
This is a wonderful post and made me very happy to read. I hope that your whole family had a lovely Thanksgiving.
Nov. 27th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
Mmmmm...Yes, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and because my aunt was deterred by weather and chose not to travel up for Thanksgiving, we will do it all again microwaved on Sunday for lunch!

I'm glad to have brightened your day, and trust that you too had a very merry Thanksgiving.


Edited because I hate blatant spelling errors. They task me! They task me!

Edited at 2010-11-27 05:17 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 28th, 2010 06:22 am (UTC)
Your caution is noted... and wise, although I can safely say that I have committed no axe murders... or at least none that I'll admit to. ;)

Joking aside, that was a lovely thing to say. I think it is easier to be that way if a) one has had a privileged and protected life, as I have - and I don't work in law, law enforcement, or social work where one's professional obligation is to be mistrustful and a little paranoid, and b) one is old enough to have seen a fair amount of the range of what life offers. There is perspective that comes from a life of security (provided one doesn't take that for granted, and recognizes it for the privilege it is), and another kind that comes from time. So I think I'm once again standing on the shoulders of giants to achieve my heights.

But then I'd need to, being only 5'1" and change, oh Tall One!

I hope your holidays are also filled with warmth and cheer.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )



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