Of all the Thanksgivings I can remember, this one may be the weirdest.
No traveling to visit relatives. No gatherings of friends and family around a bountiful table. This year there will be exactly four of us—my husband, myself, and our two sons. Except for me, all males. Which means Thanksgiving dinner will be over and done with in about twenty minutes.
Why would I spend two days cooking and baking for twenty minutes? I wouldn’t—at least not this year. I’m so not in the mood. Instead, I’ve ordered a complete Thanksgiving dinner to be delivered (hopefully) on my doorstep the day before Thanksgiving. Do I feel guilty? To be honest, a bit. But not that much.
Now to the question that really matters. Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to reflect on our blessings and express our thankfulness. Do we have blessings to be thankful for this year?
Of course we do. So in spite of trips not taken, conferences cancelled, Covid hair, missed restaurant meals, no time spent with friends over coffee, here is my THANKFUL THANKSGIVING LIST, 2020 style:
· NO COVID. None of my family members—even extended family of at least 150—have gotten Covid. In fact, although I’ve heard of cases, I don’t actually know anyone personally who’s gotten it—yet, anyway. I know we have a ways to go before vaccines are widely available.
· ZOOM. This free app has provided a way to keep in touch with people I care about. Okay, I admit I’m a little tired of it at this point, but it’s better than nothing.
· EMMIE. My new puppy is the sweetest little soul. Having her helps me in so many ways to cope with the pandemic. Even though it means setting the alarm for 2 am to help her make it through the night. Small price to pay in my book.
· COOKING. Never my favorite activity, but during the pandemic, my husband and I have developed a new routine for the evening meal. We gather in the kitchen and share both the cooking and the puppy romping. Emmie loves her ball, and she’s lightning-quick. We think she’s headed for a career as a goalie.
· WALKS. Okay, it’s not England, but this year in Ohio we’ve had the most beautiful autumn. Sunshine. Glorious colors. My favorite season has not disappointed.
· WRITING. If I can’t actually be in the British Isles, I can travel there (virtually) every day as I join Kate Hamilton and Tom Mallory in their small slice of Suffolk. The best part? In my fictional world, there’s no Covid. All the shops and pubs are open for business.
· ASSURANCE IN UNCERTAINTY. As a child of God, I know my journey and destination are in the hands of a loving Father.
· MEMORIES. This Thanksgiving may not be my favorite, but I have so many happy (and hilarious) Thanksgiving memories to draw upon:
o The Thanksgivings I spent as a child at my Danish grandmother’s house, eating her turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie. Food at her house was always the best.
o The year I followed a new online recipe and stuffed the turkey with lemon halves. Big mistake. Everything (turkey, stuffing, gravy) came out tasting like bitter lemon rind. If I ever find that recipe again, I’m pressing charges.
o The year I saved the turkey carcass to make soup, put the pot in the extra fridge in the basement, and then forgot about it—for three months. Ended up tossing out not only the lethal contents but also the nice stainless steel soup pot.
o The year Bob and I spent Thanksgiving alone in a rented trailer in the icy interior of Alaska—playing over and over again the tape my mother made for us at the family Thanksgiving gathering. I can still hear the voice of my Scottish aunt’s elderly father: ’Tis a grand day, a grand day.
o All the years we celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents. I so miss them.
o The year relatives traveled to our house for Thanksgiving and one of the teenagers, incensed about something that happened on the drive over, spent the entire day fuming in their van. As the mother of teenagers myself, I could sympathize.
o The year I was preparing Thanksgiving for a huge crowd—not my gift—and realized I’d forgotten to buy ingredients for the pumpkin pie. I was about to rush off to the grocery store one more time when a friend showed up at my door with a glorious, fully baked, homemade pumpkin pie. A true miracle.
Thanksgiving In The Time of Plague will be a memory, too, one day, and I’ve realized that I can choose how it will be remembered.
Will I regret what I can’t have or celebrate what I do have? Will I fume over what doesn’t feel right or will I keep a sense of humor? Will I harbor bitterness or will I look for the joy?
I choose joy.