…And he sat in the chair near the door that Thanksgiving Day, and saw, in the innocent and uncomplicated way a child sees everything, how each of the guests brought gifts to the party, both in their hands and in their hearts.
Aunt Rena brought her famous pecan pie, which meant she had forgiven Aunt Miriam for the argument they’d had last year, and Aunt Miriam brought the casserole she knew was Rena’s favorite.
Forgiveness, he learned, is often part of gratitude.
Uncle Nick brought a huge bowl of fruit salad and his cribbage board.
This must mean that gratitude requires joy and playfulness.
Grandma darted here and there, back into the kitchen, tending the meal, then rushing out to welcome each newcomer with hugs, then secretly adding another place at the table…only he noticed how tenderly she created an atmosphere of celebration.
He understood that humility and hospitality are important ingredients of true gratitude.
Mrs. Whitsall surprised Grandma with flowers, and he watched how closely she listened as, one by one, each guest spoke to her and moved on more calmly. It seemed like they were shining, he thought.
Listening seemed to inspire gratitude, to ignite it somehow. He’d remember this.
And his father had brought dinner rolls from Lessard’s Bakery, and his grief, which he spoke of only a little and set gently aside to join more fully in conversation.
So, gratitude must require a willingness to be human and to surrender. But for what? What did it offer in return?
And then he heard his father’s laughter, a rare beloved music the boy had missed for so long.
Ah, he thought, so there is something of healing in gratitude; it eases sorrow, so we can find our way back to our own song once more.
In every home, up and down the block and all throughout the city, people were gathering, bringing their gifts of food, of forgiveness, joy, humility, listening, and loss–if that was what they carried in their heart–and their yearning for presence. They were gathering to share food for bodies and spirits, to hear their songs sung back to them, to become real again, in ways the world sometimes rushed past and ignored.
Here we all are, as we are, in the geography of now, he thought, and through love and all its gifts, we are brought to deep and happy thanksgiving. And tonight, we’ll say goodbye, but we will be shining, spinning like brilliant stars through the dark world, shining with gratitude.
A Blessed Thanksgiving and Gentle Peace to All.
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