Archive for December, 2011

Giving Thanks

Flight into Egypt by Garnet Goldman

This column first appeared in the November issue of “Forsyth Family.”

I know you need turkey to make Thanksgiving official and, without question, a freshly roasted turkey looks and smells great.

I care about turkey on Thanksgiving mainly, though, because it’s essential for making gravy. For me, the true heart of the meal is stuffing and mashed potatoes awash in gravy. Other particularly appealing attractions include the green-bean casserole, ham and the hot sauce for the ham that I make using my grandmother’s recipe. Oh, my!

All of which means that, although I like turkey just fine the rest of the year, on Thanksgiving, I’m reluctant to squander valuable space on the plate – and in the stomach – that could be more productively devoted to other treasures. So I take just enough turkey to make the plate official.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. And not just because of the pumpkin pie. I like its simplicity. I’m all for giving thanks. I have found, time and again, that remembering to focus on being grateful can have an almost magical power to transform my attitude. One second, I’m mired in some swamp of negativity. I remember to be thankful for something, and, instantly, I’m in the neighborhood of chipper.

Ultimately, I think, gratitude is closer to the truth of life than ingratitude is. One of the things I appreciate about Garnet is that, throughout the year, she is really good about prompting me to remember to be grateful. I will be complaining about some irritation or perceived wrong, and she will say, “We have a lot to be grateful for.” If I’m really hot about something, I might shrug that off. More often, it shifts my perspective.

Certainly, I have a lot for which to be grateful. Some of the gifts I have been given, such as Garnet and the kids, are right in front of my face every day. Day to day, I may not think about many others. Some of those gifts are quite profound, such as being born to parents who put the life of the spirit at the center of their lives. In general, I have had amazingly good fortune when it comes to family, friends, neighbors and the other people in my life. Thanksgiving is a good time to stop and remember to give thanks for such remarkable gifts.

This Thanksgiving, I also want to give thanks for all the work that people I will never meet have done – the people who invented air conditioning and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as well as the countless people who did all the work of inventing words and reaching a consensus on a common language. Can you imagine how much more troublesome everyday life would be if we were still arguing about what to call a tree?

And I want to give thanks for the unexpected bonuses that life delivers. The other day, Mr. Doobins stepped on something as we were walking across a shopping-center parking lot, and, once we got to the car, the first order of business was wiping it off his shoe. He inherited his mother’s keen sense of smell, and, afterward, he said, “Phew! That smelled like a dead horse rubbed with a cigar.”

Here’s hoping that all of your Thanksgiving smells are far more savory.