Giving thanks

Cherisse, the dogs and I have returned home to a cat eager for attention (and the restarting of her fire), and to sleeping chickens who I peeked in on (and took the eggs they’d laid over the past two days…I was afraid they would freeze if we waited until morning).

This Thanksgiving morning started with a rendezvous in the park with two dear friends, who, upon parting, said “we’re thankful for your friendship.” I was moved, because I am thankful for their friendship, and for so many things that I don’t acknowledge often enough. My wonderful (sometimes crazy) family is one, especially my mother, who has suffered a stroke, seizures and a broken ankle in the past seven years, and keeps fighting back. Today we drove out to New Jersey to my aunt and uncle’s, first stopping to see my cousin’s lovely new house. I was looking forward to spending time with her two children—the charming Olivia and Maggie, but got a wonderful surprise when my cousin Tom decided to come up with one of his daughters, adorable Annika. We enjoyed a lovely meal together at a long table at which I have spent the majority of my Thanksgivings. When my sister and I were young, we used to stay over the entire weekend (my parents went home after Thanksgiving dinner, and then collected us on Sunday). We loved staying—my aunt made sure there were always so many fun things to do. And there was my uncle, who throughout my entire life has made it clear how much he loved us, unconditionally. It is powerfully comforting to know someone besides your parents cares so much.

Driving down yesterday, Cherisse and I listened to an interview on NPR with the founder of StoryCorps who is trying to turn Black Friday from a shopping day into a national day of listening. StoryCorps has traveled around the country, recording and preserving people’s stories.

Tomorrow StoryCorps is encouraging people to thank a teacher who made a difference in their lives. Some stories, already recorded, were read on air, and inevitably Cherisse and I cried (never helpful when you are driving). There is one person (a mentor of sorts) who I have thought about writing for a couple of years now, to let him know just how much he helped me. Tomorrow I will actually do it.

Life throws you off course from time to time. Family and friends provide ballast to keep you afloat. I am eternally grateful.

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