The leaves from the last tree to ignore fall’s advance have fallen, hiding the green grass that had been raked clean of the other trees’ contributions. The gray skies of morning have passed. Blue skies overhead, sunshine now warms the afternoon.

Stepping into the house, my nose is embraced by the telltale aromas of Thanksgiving. Nothing like a turkey in the oven, joined by the stuffing and sweet potatoes.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, defined by family, feasting, gratitude — and always an undercurrent of sadness. Everything which makes me grateful reminds me of those who are not as fortunate, who face challenges that should be erased on this special day. If only.

And on this day of tradition, I remember those who should be here but aren’t: loved ones, no longer living, who shaped my life and gave so many Thanksgivings the fond memories I now carry.

At times, I can almost feel the transcendence of life, the deep connection that links me to our shared humanity. Thanksgiving usually provides a palpable moment or two, amidst the clatter of dishes and conversation.

The call comes to carve the turkey. Let the feasting begin. And may transcendence envelop us all.


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My favorite holiday, doubly celebrated this year: yesterday at the church, today at home with the family.

As with all my Thanksgiving celebrations, the iconic image is a plate — more likely two — overflowing with comfort food, eaten with family and good friends. The image and holiday symbolize security and loving community.

Unlike my mother, who grew up during the Depression, or millions of others even today, I have never suffered deprivation. Yet a heaping plate of food at Thanksgiving surprisingly provides some assurance, security against “outrageous fortune.” Gathering with family and friends, people who love and accept me, conveys another comfort. Whatever may happen, people care.

Two celebrations is a gift, as the rest of the country moved on to Black Friday and Christmas shopping, which began even before the luscious smells of Thanksgiving had faded from the kitchen.

The leaves are off the trees, the days grow short, our world is troubled. I’d like to hold on to Thanksgiving a bit longer.

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Lori’s putting the turkey in the oven, Andrea is at the North-South football game — known locally as the Turkey Bowl, Grant is playing video games, Strudel is lounging on the couch, and I’m halfway listening to the Turkey Bowl on the radio while perusing the web for Thanksgiving inspiration.

This is my kind of Thanksgiving: home with family, relaxed, no agenda, plentiful and delicious food, contentment and gratitude.

Thinking of the abundance of our Thanksgiving table, I recall the story a Chinese colleague told me just last week, a memory from his early youth during Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution:

Forced to move to the country for re-education, his family lived in deprivation. A chicken was such a luxury that getting one was much anticipated and discussed by the family in the days before it was cooked. The bird was made to last for several meals; only the bones, if those, were discarded. In the days after the last of the chicken was savored, the family discussed how good it had been and how much they enjoyed it — until, in time, they could begin anticipating another chicken to cook.

The story of the original American Thanksgiving is one of a feast following hardship. My mother, who grew up during the Great Depression, knew deprivation, although probably not hunger. Thankfully, I can only empathize with my colleague’s experience, as I have not faced serious want. Nor my children, and I hope they never will.

On this day of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my abundant blessings while reflecting upon all those who, through no personal choice, are forced to do without. I wish it were not so.

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Thanksgiving TurkeyThanksgiving is my favorite holiday and, true to the name, a time of reflection and gratitude.

While the holiday’s historic significance is the Pilgrim’s celebration of the first harvest in Plymouth Colony, my attachment stems from a tradition of family gathering and bountiful food. As I’ve grown older, the words of free-lance writer Robert Brault have become increasingly true:

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

You can hear my musings on Thanksgiving by playing this selection using the player (below).

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Music: Butterfly Dreams, David Modica, from

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