Thanks to Ronna Benjamin of the Better After 50 blog for this writing prompt. Visit her here: http://betterafter50.com/
In 2016, I bring to my Thanksgiving table:
- Our decidedly un-Thanksgiving-ish Provençal tablecloth, which we bought in Spain, because why not? It’s mostly orange, and that feels like Thanksgiving to me.
- Memories of the twenty-seven Thanksgivings I celebrated in in Europe, mostly in Germany. Frohes Fest, ihr lieben, und guten Appetit!
- A relaxed attitude. I’m not trying any ambitious new recipes this year. I don’t have a bin full of November decorations—that’s just not my style, and that’s OK. Our home is welcoming, comfortable, and clean, and that’s good enough.
- Stretchy pants. It has not been a good year for my waistline, but Thanksgiving is not the time to worry about that.
- Joy at being able to spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s side of the family and Christmas with mine. No more melancholy Christmases for two, missing our loved ones across the ocean.
- A spiny knot of worry about the state of our dear country, which I will try to soothe with pie and laughter.
- A new song for our family guitar circle: John Lennon’s Imagine.
- Gratitude for our good fortune, comfortable circumstances, and opportunities.
- Freshly-sharpened determination to make new connections in my community, to do my part to hold back the wave of hate that threatens to drown our democracy. I only have my one little bucket to bail out the ship of state, but if we all bail together, we can stay afloat.
Alas, I’ve let this blog project sit fallow for a while now; my job has been doing its best to consume all my time and energy. That’s the dilemma that originally prompted me to begin this blog in the first place: how to fit the good life into my busy life. Thanksgiving is upon us, once again, and so I take a moment out of my griping and grousing to reflect on my many, many blessings. I am thankful for
- My good health. I’m getting older (51), and my knees and hips ache a bit after a hard workout, but all in all everything is functioning well. My body carries me around to where I need to go without pain.
- My tremendous wealth. By modern, Western standards I’m far from wealthy, but hey – I have all the modern conveniences. The little bit of housework I do is done indoors, with the aid of shiny machines that wash my clothes, suck up my dust, cook my food, heat my house… And, unlike so many of my sisters around the world, I have too many clothes, too many books, too much food, too much stuff. I’m working on simplifying and reducing waste – and what a blessing to be in the position of dealing with surplus, rather than scarcity. I’m grateful for that.
- My sweetie. I have the great good fortune to be engaged to a wise, funny, healthy, sexy man who loves me. More than that – he sees me, hears me, and knows me, without assuming that he already knows all there is to know about me. He takes good care of me – for example, making sure that I don’t have to worry about dinner when I come home from a late rehearsal. He is open and honest about what’s on his mind and in his heart. He has no plans to change me into the partner he had in mind – he takes me as I am. I’ve learned so much from this good, good man, and want to spend the rest of our time together on earth taking good care of him.
- My daughter. The more time you spend with other people’s children, the more you appreciate your own – and I’ve spent 25 years teaching other people’s children. My beautiful 20-year-old daughter is spirited, determined, creative, smart, strong, kind, funny, and determined to make a good life for herself. She is working damned hard, and making great strides despite some trying circumstances. I’m so proud of her.
- My mom. A widow since my dad’s sudden passing two years ago, she has shown remarkable strength and grace throughout this time of transition. She’s not only coping, she’s thriving. She has surrounded herself with friends, support groups, family, and creative hobbies that she loves. She is taking excellent care of herself, providing a wonderful role model for my daughter, whom she has generously taken in since my daughter was forced to leave an unhealthy living situation. I’m so grateful to my mom for mothering my daughter just enough – giving her a safe place to stay, and nudging her gently but firmly toward good decisions.
- The rest of my family. We’re a bunch of characters, to be sure, and have all worked through some serious hardships and hurdles. My brother and sister are great parents; their children are gorgeous and smart; and my aunts, uncles and cousins are fun, open, loving and joyful people. My dad taught me much about priorities, responsibility, intellectual curiosity and love. And though they are long gone, I’m still benefiting from my grandparents’ examples of enjoying life and loving family.
- My looks. Go ahead, call me superficial. Now that I’ve shed some excess weight that I’d been carrying for many years, I like what I see when I look in the mirror. I like the planes and angles of my face. I like my cheekbones. I like my spare shoulders, my firm arms, the newly unearthed curve of my waist. I like my little hands and feet. My face is lined, but lively and interesting. I have a nice smile. I’m grateful that what I see in the mirror is pleasing to me.
- My friends. I don’t have as many as I’d like, but I do have some jewels, and they are teaching me a lot about living the good life. Wise, funny, smart, creative, interesting friends add so much texture and beauty to the fabric of my life.
- My job. I grouse about it, but the paycheck is good. My job has permitted me to be self-supporting for the past 25 years. Being financially dependent on a man can force a woman to make hard choices that do not serve her best self-interest, and I haven’t had to make those choices – at least not for that reason. Also, my job has given me the opportunity to live in Europe; though far from rich, I’ve been able to make some trips that I otherwise would never have been able to afford. I’ve spent lots of time in France – enough to feel rather at home there – as well as some great trips to Belgium, Spain, Italy, Holland, England. Thanks to my job, I’ve had the experience of living in Germany and getting to know another way of living. By learning another perspective on “the good life,” one more based on tradition, I’ve also learned a great deal about the American perspective, good and bad, and about myself. Plus, they have the BEST Christmas cookies over here! And how I’ll miss the bread, the beer, the Christmas markets, the wine festivals, the architecture …
- The 21st century. Oh, we have our problems, but I’m so grateful to be living in a place and time when being female does not limit my possibilities for full participation in society, for equal rights under the law, for financial independence, and for self-determination.
May your Thanksgiving be full of good friends, family, good food, good fun, and gratitude for all the good things in your life.