BY LES McCARTHY
November 25, 2015
November…that time of year when the colors blend together, looking like a child’s dish of paint water—gray with swirls of gold and plum.
It’s the month when Mom Nature puts her finishing touches on the landscape before tucking everything in for the winter. There is no rush as the afternoon meets twilight—wood smoke mingles and lingers, the last of the leaves lazily flutter and fall. Thoughts drift. Only the squirrels seem to be in a hurry, burying the peanuts I leave out for them—treasures for another day.
I love this month—its beauty and serenity calm me and make my heart full.
It’s been a teary month for me—the loss of my dog and the onslaught of Hallmark movies and sappy, heartstring tugging holiday commercials have saturated my senses. But however soggy I may be, and no matter how many tissue boxes I have on hand, I am not beyond learning from the many years of sweet companionship from my pet, nor from the movies I watch; there is always something to glean and, as teary as they make me, I am thankful for their lessons.
An Estonian proverb says: “Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.”
I try to be one of those people who particularly looks for the small pleasures in life—the things that bring a smile to faces, the things that warm the soul and touch the heart—ducks flying in formation, the faraway sound of a train whistle, gingerbread, the smile of a child, a walk in the woods, pumpkins marching down porch steps, the smell of burning leaves or freshly mown grass, anyone’s laughter, and the love of family and friends.
I hope gratefulness never escapes me.
The winds came to the island this week and with them broken trees, inky darkness and cold nights. It was cold in my house and I cuddled my pug for added warmth. But as I lay under my comforter, snug and cozy against the chill, I was reminded of not only the small things in life I’m grateful for, but also for the ones that I (and we, collectively) sometimes, too easily, take for granted…food, shelter, health, family.
Even without heat I gave thanks to have a roof over my head and food in my pantry and finances to get me through many days. How could I not? I know there are so many who would give anything for those luxuries.
It’s times like these (power outages and an impending holiday focused on giving thanks) that make me take a step back and pause a moment and really give thanks to what my life is: full and robust, filled with good health and laughter, friends, family, fur-babies and wonderful children, work that is satisfying, finances that are adequate, and the natural beauty that surrounds me on a daily basis, bringing me such joy.
As you go about your day today, this 394th Thanksgiving, I hope you have a grateful heart. If you are gathering with beloved friends and/or family, I hope you make a toast to those at your table and to those who are not—or can not—be there; I hope you can speak your mind and share your heart.
And if you need a little assistance in coming up with some words, here are a few quotes that might help you out:
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.”
— Marcel Proust
“Reflect upon your present blessings—
of which every man has many—
not on your past misfortunes,
of which men have some.”
— Charles Dickens
“Here is to the two kinds of gratitude:
the sudden kind we feel for what we take,
the larger kind we feel for what we give.”
— Edwin Arlington Robinson
And as you share your dinner and you find your table conversation needs more inspiration than perhaps football scores, try sharing some Thanksgiving trivia tidbits to turn things around:
- The first Thanksgiving dinner was in 1621 and was a three-day festival celebrating the Pilgrim’s first successful harvest. The feast included venison, fish, shellfish, and fowl. Berries, root vegetables, leafy greens and corn porridge were also likely served and shared by the 90 Native Americans and the surviving 53 Pilgrims. Not until 1827 was there turkey, potatoes or pumpkin pie!
- Besides Pilgrims, the Mayflower was often used to transport wine.
- Cranberries are also called “bounce berries” because they bounce when ripe. The state of Washington produces more than 14 million pounds of them annually.
- There are more than 189,000 wild turkeys living in New England—far more than anywhere else in the States—most thought to be descendants of only 31 birds. (I’m still hoping to see the turkey that lives near me on my island home.)
Happy day to you. Count your blessings, great and small. Count your blessings, one and all.
Search out things to be grateful for—open your eyes to your neighbors in need, to the beauty of our island, to our wonderfully generous and gifted community members, and the gifts within you. Share your heart.
“If Nature has made you for a giver,
your hands are born open, and so is your heart;
and though there may be times
when your hands are empty,
your heart is always full,
and you can give things out of that.”
— Frances Hodgson Burnett
Happy November—Happy Thanksgiving!
Les McCarthy is an author, entrepreneur and IPPY bronze medalist for her yearly “Healthy Living ~ Healthy Life: 365 Days of Nutrition & Health for the Family” calendars. She’s been a little over a year on the island and in the NW and loves every gorgeous bit of it (especially the rain and fog). She joyfully tends to her geriatric fur factory and is enjoying the slugs and snails more now that they’re gone!
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