“Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me,’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’”– Anne Lamott
Thanksgiving is always one of the most evocative holidays for me. Each year, the memories rise and crest in my mind:
- The Thanksgiving with my grandparents when my brother and I started making yam jokes, (uh oh, does anyone have an extra yampon?) culminating in renaming our grandpa’s wife our ‘Yamma.’
- The Thanksgiving when one of my dad’s business partners suffered a heart attack.
- The Thanksgiving when my uncle announced that he and his new wife were expecting a baby, who I knew would be a boy, and who is now an amazing 17-year-old.
- My first Thanksgiving away from home when I was 20, and my friends and I drank wine coolers and yelled “Gobble, gobble, gobble,” from the rooftop of my apartment building, and how irreverent and exhilarating it was to break tradition so steeply, to sculpt something of my very own.
- My last Thanksgiving with my brother—we danced across my grandparent’s mauve carpet to Fleetwood Mac songs, young grownups we were, and it was one of those moments when I slipped into the music and everything felt full and alive.
The holiday is like a charm bracelet, each sliver of the past dangles and gleams, each different but connected by the day itself, which is circular and solid.
Today the snow glazes everything, whitening the world. In my chest lies an ache the shade of a robin’s egg, speckled and pure. So many have left this earth. So many others, like me, have moved far from home. All of these days of the past live inside me, mingling with the sweetness of the present: the sound of my kids giggling outside as they watch the world go white, hurtling small cakes of snow at each other.
Thank you. Thank you for letting me love so many people, even as that love sometimes cracks my heart open. Thank you for this good, good life, for my husband, my kids, my parents, my friends. For letting me know that this day is not about the food, but the faces around the table.
And please. Please help me to be here, to be present, to let me see the faces in front of me, because they are as smooth as stones, as open as the sky, and mine just for this moment. Even if they are grouchy and red-faced, and even if I am grouchy and red-faced. Let me feel it. Let me be here so that if I’m blessed with many more years, I’ll remember this with a vagueness, unable to quite capture the sweet lilt of their voices, that I worried too much and about the wrong things.
And I’ll say remember when? When the kids were little? It was so hard, and so good.