I’m surrounding myself with family today, with too much delicious home cooked food, with old and new traditions. We can’t seem to gather each year without Nana Bea’s rolls, Mom’s jello mold, Karen’s challah stuffing, and this year’s new trick, Mushroom Wellington à la Alan.

“Reviving family recipes honors your ancestry, but more than that, it makes manifest the inconceivable truth. This one meal is the fulfillment of infinite lifetimes.” says Karen Maezen Miller. My forebears would be proud and happy, as am I, mostly. Is there always a caveat?

I wish Thanksgiving could be with our whole extended clan, as we’ve had for so many years, but our Portland version is sweet. How hard we worked to get here to this day of celebration, our 9th Oregon Thanksgiving! Rupert Spira says, “Happiness is to align what we want with what is, unhappiness is the attempt to align what is with what we want.” We’ve managed to find a sweet spot.

The past as a blur – one time me and mine were all together for Thanksgiving, 2016

Sometimes the hard stuff is just too in my face, and I have to fall back on the little things, the tried and trite but true phrases. It’s hard to be hateful when you’re grateful. Be here now. I look to the Pacific Northwest beauty around me, how the cold sun came out of the fog today and lit up the brightly colored fallen leaves. I look to my family, and friendships. I’m grateful for our health, that we’re all vaccinated. I’m even grateful that others have the right to do what they think best for them! I just hope they’re careful. I’m amazed and grateful for our willingness to get up again and again and keep going in the face of… well, all the other stuff. I’m grateful that those closest to me are safe and warm, and hope we find a path toward making that true for everyone else.

Charles Kingsley said, “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” So I take note from Ezra who comes at me full speed for a hug that could easily take me down. I bathe in his glee in beating me over and over at Crazy 8s, and in Rosa’s joy at skunking me at Cribbage. I embrace her ability to enter every project or idea with unfettered enthusiasm. Their continuous rediscovery of optimism and delight is a guiding star.

Art, sudoku, grandparents, home away from home.

My own enthusiasm ebbs and flows and though I seem to have little control over it, I’m thrilled when it shows up unannounced and frosts the edges of my life with sweetness. My friend Bonnie Rae says, “When everything is not fine, be the light.” I can do that.

color therapy
asked to arrange
the flowers in a vase
I put them in any which way-
so glad there are some things
which can’t go wrong

tom clausen

Sometimes it’s other people’s words get me through and around. My writing groups have been inspirational that way; people writing and reading aloud what’s most on their minds, trying to find words for the knots that we bind ourselves in, and in the sharing, find a loosening. 

So thank you friends for your readership, for your enthusiasm, for the happinesses you share, and for the light. Forever grateful.

Flowers in our garden, still holding on. For now.

10 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. Very different from my day, except for the joyous part! And different from the blog post I’m writing—unfinished because the day isn’t over. I’ve made hard-won peace with happiness being exactly what is. Sending love to you and your beautiful family.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you’ve won!! That’s always the challenge when everyone is celebrating something you are not. Finding your own peace and peace of mind. Thanks as always for reading Gretchen. Be sure to look at Anu’s comment below! Your love keeps spreading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so spot on. All of it. I love the ways you break it apart and lay it out in all of its splendor. It’s a good life, to be sure. Our gatherings have been permanently altered by Covid. It drove a wedge that seems to have become something we cannot overcome. It’s okay. I have learned to embrace impermanence and found comfort living in each moment. Taking it as it comes. The minute I try to wrangle my own will, things fall apart, so I am learning this hard lesson about loving what is. Thank you so much for your wise words and honest sharing. And thank you for sharing my words, too. You do a really lovely job of being the light. So nice to be in your beam*

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s such a great feeling to have such a wonderful reader! I envy your embrace of impermanence and keep wandering around it, in and out. I have a stubborn streak. I hope the wedge will ease in time. Thank you, from one beam to another.


  3. Grateful to be able to read your wise and beautiful words. I was with you in thoughts… Missed the rolls, the jello mold, the challah stuffing, the music, the family. Grateful that you had a sweet Portland Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nancy…loved bathing in your words and finding quietude in the midst of a day that seemed to be in non-stop motion. There is so much to be grateful for in the midst of small and large heartbreaks. Life keeps on moving, and yet, the small moments of coming to terms stay in eternity. Thank you for helping me remember these moments. You are a great philosopher and your words strike deep. I am grateful for you and our writing brothers and sisters. BTW, I used Gretchen’s Roasted Kale and Cauliflower Soup recipe at our table. Everyone loved it, and through it, Gretchen’s family ancestry became entangled in ours. Such is the nature of living….

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Pingback: 100 Things That Made My Year | Rivers and Roads PDX

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