Thanksgiving plans across the country are being suspended and cancelled this year – our year of COVID-19, panic, existential dread, and group anxiety. Everyone’s expectations for relief and some reassuring holiday cheer have been dashed. And political divide within some families is driving the wedge further. How can we have a hopeful Thanksgiving?
Let’s try to cheer up and count those blessings we overlook every day. Luke the wonder dog and I went for our morning walk today. We go for the same walk five mornings a week. Today wasn’t much different from yesterday or the day before. But it was wintery cold for the first time today. There was frost on the grass. And I wore a hat and gloves and a nice warm coat. It was so unlike the walk we would have taken if we still lived in Florida. It is a joy to be wearing turtlenecks and sweaters again. For this I am grateful.
Our daily walks might seem to be a monotonous routine, but recently we trained a fellow quotidian walker to keep some dog biscuits in her pocket, to share with Luke, and he is overjoyed to see the old lady every day. His ears perk up and he strains eagerly to meet her on the path, where she kindly gives him a tiny dog treat – the size of a Flintstone vitamin. And then she pats his head, and tells him what a good boy he is. We all socialize for a moment and then go our own ways. We have made a tenuous connection, and the three of us are a little bit happier. Thank you.
Every couple of days I leave Luke penned up in the kitchen, with Alexa playing NPR, and a red rubber Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter, while I make a quick trip to the grocery store. After I finish writing this piece I will be buzzing out, mask in hand, with some reusable, locally-sourced bags, to pick up some wine for dinner, and a copy of the New York Times. While shopping I will make eye contact with a few of the other shoppers as we bob and weave and struggle to remember to keep our social distance. You have to smile with extra crinkling efforts these days, so people can tell you are smiling. Everyone seems to be trying harder. This is good.
Depending on the size of your pandemic pod, you might not be having much of a Thanksgiving feast. But you are always going to have a sinkful of dishes. No matter how much cleaning you do as you go along, there will be greasy pots, fragile glasses, gritty mixing bowls, slippery silverware and sticky beaters. For that we should be truly grateful.
I read somewhere today that Nigella Lawson, who is English, thought we should just have vanilla ice cream with a cranberry syrup on Thanksgiving. Sure. That’s just what we need to be doing – scrimping on dessert. I don’t think so, Nigella. (I mean, she butters her toast twice, for heaven’s sake!) Luke and I don’t walk five miles a day to have a measly bowl of ice cream for Thanksgiving dessert. On Thanksgiving we will be indulging in our favorite flourless chocolate cake. With whipped cream, thank you very much. Well, Mr. Friday and I will be. We’ll give Luke the treat of a peanut butter-stuffed Kong, but we’ll stay in the kitchen with him as we listen to NPR together. I can’t wait to hear Susan Stamberg’s annual recitation her mother-in-law’s recipe for orange cranberry relish. It is our Thanksgiving ritual. And then we will sidle over to the Group W bench for 18 minutes of song with Arlo Guthrie. And then maybe we’ll take a walk. Happy Thanksgiving!
Nigella’s recipe: https://www.nigella.com/recipes/ice-cream-with-cranberry-syrup
The Spy’s Flourless Chocolate Cake: https://chestertownspy.org/2012/02/09/food-friday-for-love-and-chocolate/
Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacree: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/brief-history-alices-restaurant-180967276/
“Those who are not grateful soon begin to complain of everything.”
― Thomas Merton