“Be present in all things, and thankful for all things.” -Maya Angelou
It is Thanksgiving Eve….and everything is different.
We picked up tomorrow’s dinner at Union, a popular Portland restaurant and a favorite of ours. Two handsome, male valets plopped a huge brown-paper bag filled with food in the opened trunk of our SUV with a cheerful, “Happy Thanksgiving”. We shouted the same in return as we drove away into the night.
I am 71 years-old, and in all those years only once have I not had a homemade Thanksgiving dinner at someone’s dining room table. The exception was one year…. seven family members decided to do something different and celebrated Thanksgiving at a local Inn. It was lovely to share the holiday together, but missing was the hustle/bustle in a kitchen, overlapping laughter/playfulness and discussion, punctuated with kisses and embraces.
I swore to myself…never again.
Fast forward and here we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
Along with our restaurant-made banquet…on the agenda is a breakfast and dinner Zoom call with our sons…John in Boston, Jeremy and his fiancé Danielle in West Palm Beach, and the two of us in Maine…relegated to an iPad screen to share the festivities.
Thanksgiving is a time for family rituals, an opportunity to pause and reflect. The past year leaves much to ponder…the challenges….and gifts.
I have been surprised by feelings of relief when staring at a sparse calendar with few places to go and little to do. It has opened time for meditation, reading, photography, writing, catching up on projects, quiet time to myself, and couple-time.
My emotions have swayed, plunged, overwhelmed, delighted, devoured and startled me….from fear, concern, worry….to boredom and stress….and revved-up….to flat. I have learned I am remarkably resilient.
I have instinctively sought stability and peacefulness, immersing myself in nature…tranquilized by strings of sunbeams lighting a landscape, enthralled with the melody of a bird song, amused by the acrobatic behavior of a squirrel, mesmerized by a stroll along a Maine beach…offerings of profound medicinal relief I had not anticipated would be so delightfully strong, so welcomed.
I have learned living in a loft setting with one person over an extended period of time will magnify frustration and annoyance, while simultaneously expanding gratitude for companionship, shared laughter and calming presence..ultimately blessed to live with my best friend.
I appreciate the ability to linger longer in meaningful conversation with a scheduled Zoom call every Sunday with family, several times a month with my two women’s groups, with our couple friends, and one-on-one with cherished close companions.
I miss hugging. I so miss hugging. I cannot wait to enfold those I love in my arms, envelop, squeeze, linger, with tears…lots of tears. I give you all fair warning.
The last nine months have been an extension of a difficult year. I have recovered from both a fractured ankle and a knee replacement, paling in comparison to what many of you have experienced. We have family who have been on the front lines of providing medical services to COVID patients. Friends have lost parents, been estranged from new grandchildren, are care-taking those they love. We have all seen the extensive food lines, the intubated loved ones in the media. I am humbled and saddened by what others have endured.
I am thankful to those workers who have delivered our food, our mail, our masks/hand sanitizer, our toilet paper; for the members of our medical and dental community who have gone the extra mile to perform procedures in a safe environment; and to all of those who have worked under difficult conditions to provide the essential services keeping the rest of us cared for and comfortable…my profound gratitude and thankfulness go out to each of you.
And….for the scientists who have worked tirelessly to produce vaccines, we can, relatively soon, anticipate freedom of movement, the ability to connect with one another and a return to a semblance of life as we once knew it….coupled with a shift in government that at least for me, represents relief from chaos, with movement toward hope, re-connection, and country-wide comfort. Bravo!
This is not the Thanksgiving we all have been accustomed to…or would have wished for or wanted…but perhaps, for the level of consciousness, depth of gratitude and gratefulness…it will most likely be the most memorable.