We sat as a family the other day, feasting on roast turkey and apple-sausage dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie and ice cream. The meal that whispers of family and tradition through the smells and tastes we’ve experienced in November of every year, for a lifetime. The scent of thyme and sage and roast turkey fills my head with memories of pulling out my mother’s good silverware to set the table, and rinsing the dust off crystal glasses, unused since the holiday season a year before. Of decades of Thanksgiving dinners spent greeting guests and sharing the feast with those staying the weekend at our guest ranch. Of smaller celebrations at our cabin, watching the river flow by, along banks frosted white.
This year was just the four of us, sitting at the kitchen table. In turn, we each talked of our favorite moments since being back in Oregon, and our worst. We talked about those things we are most grateful for. This, a variation of a game we play at meals from time to time called “high, low, what do you know.”
We have so very much to be grateful for; our lives are an example of abundance. I love good conversation. I find it hard to overstate how much I enjoy talking with my family. Both of the girls have grown into great company, and our topics range from how sugar changed the history of the world, animals on the sea bottom, to medieval rulers. Religion, sharks, travel, food; our children are more interesting than many adults. These conversations often come about while sitting down to share a meal.
I am so thankful for John, who always puts experiences above possessions and whose wanderlust matches my own. I am grateful we bought our home almost 20 years ago and did not take on the huge remodel we talked about. I am grateful we sold the dude ranch when we did.
Even in sadness and bad luck, there is much to be grateful for. Two months ago we lost John’s father to cancer. I am so very glad we were able to come stay in his home and spend his final weeks with him, to share this sacred time. Marlie is on crutches, recovering from surgery repairing her broken tibia. There was a cyst in the bone; it was going to break at some point. It could have been on safari in Africa and those nights might have been spent in a hospital in Mozambique or Tanzania, instead of here in our home town. Here, where there are not only an abundance of orthopedic surgeons, but one who specializes in pediatrics.
So, today, as I eat leftovers from our feast, the taste and smell of thyme and sage and turkey stuffing take my thoughts back to reflect on the many things I have to be thankful for. Our family’s conversations echo in my mind, and I am grateful.