In other words...
Something Smells Fishy...
Thanksgiving is a compound word.
Thanks and giving with no space in between.
Cannot have one without the other, or so the story goes.
Oh, I know the story you all know. The one you learned in a classroom long ago, while creating turkey placemats, and turkey cards, and turkey this and turkey that. Perhaps even a Pilgrim’s hat, for the centerpiece. On the table. The table where we gather, young and old, hale and hearty, weak and frail, related distantly or distantly relating. To give thanks. To be grateful for blessings received.
A legendary celebration of folks grateful to be alive, to be in safe territory and to be well fed.
I smell fish.
The Pilgrims did eat fish and game, berries from bushes and nuts gathered from trees. I doubt they had colorful crayola colored crafty centerpieces. I don’t think they had green bean casserole and oyster stuffing, or Aunt Hilda’s famous pinwheel cookies, or Uncle Theo’s venison sausage patties, or Grandma Ethel’s cheesy potato casserole topped with crumbled cornflakes and baked in a 350 degree oven or until the top turns brown.
No. Don’t think so.
Nope. I don’t think they had commercials yammering in their ears two weeks before the festival from Jimmy Joe John’s Plumbing Service touting their much needed and highly regarded, before the guests arrive Thanksgiving Special, a new disposal so the sink won’t back up, and as an added bonus a certified crapper clapper guaranteed to warranty a super flush every time. No embarrassing plumbing problems. Be thankful.
Or the home repair specialists, ready to evacuate your eaves, or shore up your foundation to keep the leaky squeaky rusty dusty musty parts of your thankful house from spoiling the pleasure of your thankfully squeaky, rusty, dusty, moldy oldie pests, uh, guests.
Ah and yes the consultants, we need those. Clipboard in hand ready to assess the fraying edges of carpet, the windows that are peeling and cracked, the dated 70’s kitchen, the backsplash in need of an updo and the table set with mismatched chairs. Click click click goes the pen, boxes checked on the sheet, the consultant’s job now complete.
I smell fish.
It stinks in here. And the parade has just begun.
The dietitians ever thankful for arriving just in time before I add salt to the potato water, regular, not sea salt, or better no salt at all, and oops, the nut fanatics, the picky eaters, the don’t let any of my food touch on the plate crazies, the vegans, the animal rights advocates holding Tom the Turkey hostage, the Ding Dong deniers, the food police sorting through bins on a warrantless search of the premises for one single slip of the tongue, an unwashed finger tasting the savory sweet potatoes before sprinkling on the tiny marshmallows, oh my no not those. The cherry Jello with sliced bananas banished. Empty calories. Wasted fat. Wasted fat?
It’s Not Really Butter is Better.
I have clean eaves. My house is newly carpeted, the Feng Shui expert just left, the table is set with all the chairs matching, the eaves are swept, the toilet flushed, the foundation settled, and I am trying very hard to be thankful for the carrot stick in my hand.
It is almost Thanksgiving.
The time for thanks.
The time for giving.
The guests have not arrived. The table, however, is covered in place cards, politically correct placements of disparate demeanors as far apart as possible, so much so that I had to add two leaf extensions and the table now is so carefully arranged that a few people will have to sit on the porch and shout to the hard of hearing folks down in the basement.
Here I sit. So very close to Thanksgiving Eve, listening to the Children’s Channel on the radio, a continuous loop of lullabies for little ones poised between eyes closed and the coming of sleep. I am not a regular subscriber to this station, but I babysat for my grandson today and we listened to this as we read the same book over and over and over as he nestled his head against my chest.
I can still feel the warmth of his tiny body against mine. A mutual love fest and a simultaneous sense of security, minus the beloved stuffed giraffe and the soft and silky nighty-night blanket. Just us two. Making a silent pact of trust.
I, my eyes say, will give you a soft place to land.
I will give you my heart, his sleepy eyes reply.
An exchange of hopefulness.
A promise made by both, to give and to receive.
I offer to you now, this gift of love. This promise of safety. This safe place to land. For this is truly all we have to offer as we sit across the table, friend or foe. A moment of quiet. A taste of peace. What more can we offer one another? What else, dear guests, can I place upon your plate except this guarantee that I am here, and will never let you go without my hand at your back, my love tucked up your sleeve and my whisper of reassurance in your ear?
Count upon your fingers. Count upon your toes.
Everyone a blessing is how the story goes.
Gathered at the table, hands folded in our prayer, we offer up our thanks for the blessings we receive. For some, merely the breath upon awakening and the start of the gift of an unexpected new day. For others, the gift of an answered prayer. And for so many, a peek through clenched fists at the headlines in the news, only to find that the earth did indeed turn once more on its axis and we are still here, still here together, landing on the same blank calendar page with our pencils ready to write a new entry in our journals.
Counting blessings and counting toes.
But lest we forget,
the giving is the gift.
The act of giving. Lovingly wrapped with tender care, tied up with a bow, in a familiar child’s crayon scrawl, embossed on a paper doily turkey gobbler, feathers pasted on one by one, random colored shapes, that only a parent might recognize...to Momma with love, for my Dad, to Grandma hugs and kisses, for Grandpa XXXOO...
Would that it was so easy...as easy as pie...a slice and a scoop of ice cream on top. To be invited in to receive. To give by bearing the fruits of our labor. I roast the turkey, you bring the green beans. I butter the rolls, you roll out the cookie dough.
The sweet and savory smell of success.
Thanks and giving.
I may lure you in with a carrot stick...
But I promise you...a feast.