James Taylor, Cranberry Sauce, & the Bengay

Many folks are slowing their lives down this week to remember a few things that they find beautiful and for which they are thankful. It seems like we all need a break. The dust has settled and we are exhausted from a hurricane and a long, emotional presidential election. We need a day where we recall some happiness even if it isn’t quite as vivid today as it might have been in the past.

I was sitting next to a classmate this week and we were discussing Thanksgiving food schedules and family endeavors. After going through a family situation that had left him estranged, he decided that Thanksgiving didn’t do much for him. Rather than bringing him joyful reunions, this time of year was a painful reminder of what he once had. Thankfully, he had plans to spend the holiday with friends who didn’t seem to get the memo that holidays must be spent with blood kin.

The conversation forced me to think about what Thanksgiving really means. It can’t solely mean time spent with relatives because lots of folks, like this friend, don’t have the opportunity to feast with family. It can’t solely mean eating great food because lots of folks don’t have that either and you know, some of us, may actually be allergic to turkey! It can’t solely mean celebrating traditions because new ones are made each year.

No, I suspect the meaning of Thanksgiving cannot be so easily defined. Perhaps at its most basic element, it means just what it says. Thanks giving. Gratitude. A time to reflect on the folks who make our lives beautiful. The ones who stir our souls and make us giddy inside. Many times these folks aren’t blood relatives, but they are, in every way, our family… because family are the folks that surround and love us at our best and at our worst. And celebrating those people today… well… that’s Thanksgiving to me.

As I was cooking a squash casserole yesterday, James Taylor’s classic, “You’ve Got a Friend” came on, the lyrics seemed pretty appropriate:

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am,
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call,
and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, you’ve got a friend.

So as I celebrate this Thanksgiving with some Bengay on my hip and cranberry sauce between my teeth, I’m a grateful girl for the folks that consistently show me what love and grace look like. Some are related by blood, but most have somehow worked their way past my walls and into my heart.

So a very happy day to you as you read this. May the day live up to everything you define Thanksgiving as. And most of all, may you have a friend today.

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