Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanks-Giving Square

Maryann Miller's first appearance on Salad Bowl Saturdays has inspired me to add something to my bucket list and that does not happen every day.

~ Jim

It is serendipitous the way connections are made. Or perhaps it is just we who weave stories with words who find these kinds of connections so fascinating.

Let me explain, but first I want to thank to Jim Jackson for inviting me to share this space today. What a clever idea to have Salad Bowl Saturdays.

When I first made arrangements with Jim to be a guest I did not realize the date coincided with Thanksgiving weekend here in the States. Once I did, I thought perhaps my guest piece should be about the holiday. About the same time I made that decision, I read a short news item about a place in Dallas that I am very familiar with, Thanks-Giving Square. The United Nations recently honored Peter Stewart, the founder of Thanks-Giving Square, for his "commitment to dialogue among people of different beliefs."

On October 21st, Stewart was given the first Spirit of the United Nations Award for Youth Outreach for his work with the Thanks-Giving Square Foundation. In 2004 the Foundation asked Dallas-area students in grades K-12 to submit art and essays that expressed their gratitude. The contest gradually expanded to include students across Texas. Two years ago, the competition was opened to young people across the nation and this year is reaching out to young people around the world.

When I lived and worked in Dallas as a journalist, I wrote a piece for a local publication about that beautiful, serene place in the heart of downtown. Thanks-Giving Square is a place that has no specific religious ties, but connects in a special way to the spiritual side of humanity and whatever Higher Power one believes in, or doesn't. It is simply a place where a person can sit in the quiet meditation room, or relax on benches that overlook the artistically designed waterfalls, and take a break from the bustle of a workday.

Within minutes of arriving at the Square to interview the manager, I discovered what a wonderful place it is and felt so calm and peaceful as I sat on a bench and listened to the water cascade over stones. Soft music played from speakers discreetly hidden, and I could have sat there for hours, except I had a deadline and an interview to conduct.

Intended to be a quiet place in the heart of a bustling city, the Square promotes the spirit and unifying value of giving thanks, no matter what form that thanks might take. For some it is prayer to God, in one of His or Her many forms, for others it is taking time to focus on the good in themselves, their town, their country and their world.

Another serendipitous connection to the Square came when I was writing Open Season, the first book in The Seasons Series, which came out in 2010. In one scene where Sarah Kinsgly is on a date with a very intriguing man she hopes is a keeper, he asks her to take him to her favorite place in Dallas. When trying to figure out what place might be a favorite for a tough homicide detective, for some reason Thanks-Giving Square popped into my head. Sarah seemed to like the idea, too, because the scene just took off, even though it was the most unusual setting for a romantic scene.

So if you are ever in Dallas, I hope you will stop in Thanks-Giving Square and soak up some of the peace offered there.

Maryann Miller has won numerous awards for her screenplays and short fiction, including the Page Edwards Short Fiction Award. She is a best-selling author of novels of mystery and suspense and loves writing a short story when her muse gifts her with one. She has been writing all her life and plans to die at her computer or out in her garden in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas where she lives with her husband, one horse, one goat, one sheep, one dog and four cats. The cats rule.
    Her latest release, Stalking Season, is the second book in The Seasons Series that debuted with Open Season. The mystery series features two women homicide detectives in Dallas

For more information you can check out her Website, read her Blog, friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.


  1. Like coincidence, I'm not sure I believe in serendipity, as in "All the world's a stage...." But I'm glad that your blog corresponded to the Thanksgiving holiday, which evoked you to write about one of your favorite places that you used in your novel, and the objectives of that place serve the same purpose of the holiday. Seems fishy to me! I think you were set-up. No such thing as serendipity. Jim maybe in the frame. Just a suspicion, but he's sneaky.

    Thanks for blogging here. I'll look up your work.

  2. I'll take it as a compliment that you think I may have covertly set up Maryann for today so she could write this particular blog, but that wasn't how it worked. If you still don't believe me (and why would you, I suppose if I'm that sneaky), I'll take full credit.

    Thanks-Giving Square is now on my bucket list of places to see should I ever be in the general vicinity.

    Thanks for the post, Maryann.

    ~ Jim

  3. You are welcome, Jim. I'm glad you gave me the opportunity to be a guest here. I'll let you and E.B. hash out whether the timing was all planned. LOL

    E.B., I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Let me know what you and Jim decide about the serendipity and all that. (smile)

  4. The only time I've been in Dallas, Maryann, is when I've been on a brief layover in their airport. But if I ever happen to be in Dallas for longer, Thanks-Giving Square is definitely a place I'd like to visit.

    The first book in your series is one I'd like to read.

  5. Thank you, Jim and Maryann, for two more things to be thankful for--Thanks-Giving Square and Maryann's series. Both sound like intriguing places to spend time.

  6. I'm glad I could introduce folks to that wonderful place in Dallas. Writing this piece reminded me of how long it has been since I visited.

    Gloria, and anyone else who is interested, I do have hardcover copies of both books that I would be happy to autograph and mail. I offer a bit of a break off what it costs at Amazon. Just e-mail me at maryann (at) maryannwrites (dot) com Open Season is also available as an e-book.

  7. Very interesting about the square. And cool that you used it in your novel.

  8. Thanks for stopping by, Carla. I do like to use real places in my books, and if E.B. will allow, it was a bit serendipitous the way Thanksgiving Square got worked into the story.

  9. Thanks for sharing Thanks-Giving Square! Love that it's a romantic setting for your book. Seems appropriate to me. Any place can be romantic -- or murderous. Although, as a favorite place -- I'd say romance is more appropriate.

  10. Yolanda, you are so right about any place being good for romance. In one of my books I had the male protagonist rent an entire indoor skating rink and set up a fancy dinner for the woman he was in love with. It was fun figuring out how to make that romantic. This was for a woman's novel, Play it Again, Sam. Not the mysteries.
    What are some unusual places you have come across in books you have read?