Thanksgiving Day

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

As wonderful as my country is, there are many aspects of life here in America that I could never, in good conscience, recommend to my friends around the globe. Donald Trump, for instance. He can be a bit of a trial. We are the country of both the Hummer and the Double Down Burger, neither invention worth crowing about, in my opinion. We are bothered with yellow jackets, rattlesnakes, and Sarah Palin. They are ours, I suppose, and we just have to endure them. But there is something that takes place in America that I can most sincerely endorse to all. Thanksgiving Day. One day out of the year that we as a nation set aside just for being grateful. Now it could be argued that the meaning of this day is often obscured by football games and pie. And it's certainly true that part of the national celebration includes a rather sensational parade in which skyscraper size balloons shaped like Donald Duck and Underdog bob along in the air above New York City. Fun, to be sure, but not exactly conducive to quiet moments of reflection. But for each of us, there usually comes a time during this particular day when we pause to reflect on all of the love and wonder that shines in our lives, both individually and collectively, and it is that thankful moment that lifts the fourth Thursday in November up off the calendar and holds it aloft as a beacon to gratitude, a day of Thanksgiving. It is a lovely way to begin the holiday season, I can tell you.
I have many things to be grateful for, many reasons to smile, as I'm sure you do as well.
Here's a random list of ten.
How about yours?

1. Words

I still remember the first time I read the world, salubrious. It was in the delightful book, My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell. "Saloooobreeeeous". It positively tickled my tongue. I loved saying it and did so at every opportunity, for weeks. It remains one of my favourite words, as much for its definition as for the delicious taste it leaves in my mouth when I utter it. The English language is a divine treasure trove, a veritable diamond mine that sparkles with jewels which, when chosen carefully, can transform the mundane into the incredible, lift high the lowest spirit, or chop the foolish right down to size. With such a magical lexicon at our disposal, it pains me to hear it abused by words such as, "like" or "whatever". Even worse, it is so often simply neglected. So many imaginative, colourful words are ignored these days, it's a pity. I realize I am not alone in my concern for our current linguistic state, for there is now a fabulously entertaining website called Save The Words where one may "adopt" an endangered word, promising to use it whenever and wherever one can. The site is fun to browse through and you can choose your word, or just let them provide one for you at random. My adopted word is "prandicle" and no doubt it will be beneficial to consider its meaning quite seriously over the Holiday season so as not to over indulge.


2. My Vegetable Garden

When I signed up for my community garden plot, I don't think I truly believed I'd ever by eating my own fresh vegetables. I enjoyed the planting and watering, and often go over to the garden just to sit on one of the benches and feel the wind and sun on my face. It's such a peaceful place. I marveled at the beauty of the growing things in my little plot, much the same as I appreciate the flowers in my home garden. But lo and behold! I can actually eat this stuff! Wow! We've been eating our own fresh lettuces for several weeks now, and my very own homegrown broccoli will be on my Thanksgiving table this year! Such a treat!


3. Edward

This third entry is an expected one, no doubt. But really, Edward is such a joy every single day, how could I possibly leave him out? On an afternoon just last week, I was over tending to the garden whilst The Songwriter took Edward and the delightful Apple for a walk around the adjoining parkland. When my chores were done, I locked the garden gate and set off to find the wandering three. Looking across a wide field, my hand shielding my eyes from the sun, I spied them. They spied me. Kneeling down where I was, I watched as The Songwriter unsnapped Edward's lead. A Polar Bear racing over the ice, a Snow Owl shooting through the night sky - the big white dog flew towards me like an arrow, grinning all the while he came. To be loved by a dog is a wonderful thing.


4. Trees

There was a tall Sweetgum tree that stood on the perimeter of a forest behind my childhood house, with one fat limb that hovered just close enough to the ground for an easy leg up. Once on that limb, often with a book in one hand - no easy feat, I can tell you - I could then shimmy up into the middle of that tree with relative grace. There, hidden behind a curtain of green, I would spend hours in my own private emerald castle, with my dog sleeping contentedly far down on the ground. In my life long romance with trees, that Sweetgum was perhaps my first love and indeed, I remember certain trees in my life in much the same way as others may recall past loves. There was the Sugar Maple I used to pass every day on my way to school. I would wait for its leaves to change each autumn - that vibrant blast of colour no artist could paint. I know that tree influenced the planting of the Sugar Maples in my own garden today. There was the Monkey Puzzle tree that greeted me at the end of a long winding driveway in Scotland. I still see that one in my dreams. There is the gargantuan Magnolia in my own front garden. Planted years ago, far too close to the house, it greenly dances in front of each window, shielding us from the harsh afternoon glare and providing the perfect sleeping place for the mourning doves that flock to it each evening.
Each one an individual, each one glorious, I simply adore trees.
And the photograph above is off my own back garden, underneath some very old friends.


5. Weddings

Okay, I'll admit to having a lump in my throat when I saw Diana's sapphire ring resting on the hand of the lovely Kate Middleton last week.
Has it really been thirty years since that other fabled, fated wedding?
I wish these two every happiness in the world. Those smiles on their faces are charming and I'm thankful all over again for the light of new love.
I can't help it - weddings get me every time.
I fervently pray the jackals will leave these two alone.


6. Harry Potter

I swore I wouldn't read them, relying on my usual dislike of anything so universally popular. And it's true, I came to the Harry Potter books rather late in the game. Three had already been published and still I refused to open one. Finally, at the urging of a friend, I promised to read the first chapter of the first book. Just to see. And, just like magic, I found I couldn't hold the seat on my very high horse and tumbled down, down, down into the most wondrous world I'd encountered since childhood. Like millions of grade schoolers, I now waited impatiently for the release of each book. My tradition never varied. As soon as the UPS man placed the book on my front steps (yes, I was one of those who ordered online so as to get my copy on the morning it was published) I would snatch it up greedily, throw it into a straw bag, and head for the beach with my hair in a ponytail. There I would stay, with just the occasional break for sustenance, until I'd finished the entire tale. The last pages of The Deathly Hallows was read in the midst of a thunderstorm - wind and rain blowing all around, lightning out over the sea. Magic? Of course.
And yes, I was there last week on opening day of the next to last film.
Magic? Of course.


7. The Songwriter

He's funny and kind, even when he's not thinking about it.
He sings to Apple when she's being brushed because it stops her from wiggling.
He makes me pancakes on Saturdays and wakes me up with coffee brewing each and every morning.
He rubs my feet without my asking which is a luxury beyond any measure.
He kills the bugs that make me squeal and refills the bird feeder outside my office window even when it's bone chilling cold.
He sees the humour in everything and his blue eyes get little and round when he's angry.
Whenever we arrange to meet up somewhere, in a shop or cafe, my heart still skips a beat when I see him approach and I am unutterably grateful for that.


8. Individuality

Knowing who you are at an early age is a valuable and irresistible thing.
I am always drawn to such people, they make life a complete joy.
The ones who refuse to follow trends, who are honest and forthright, who dance to a tune only they can hear.
This little chap seems to already have a handle on who he is.
Why do I think he will have a most interesting life?

photo via The Satorialist


9. Jane Goodall

Everyone knows Dr. Jane Goodall is passionate about chimpanzees. Her life's work has been devoted to their study and welfare. There is a wonderfully prophetic photograph of her as a baby, clutching a toy chimpanzee close, a hint of what was to come in her life. But her love of animals and the natural world is far reaching. Consider this little known photograph above. That is a young Jane with a favourite dog named Rusty. Of Rusty, she says... "He was my childhood companion. We did everything together. He taught me about animal personality, mind and emotions..... I could never have left for Africa had Rusty still been alive. I could not have lived with such a sense of betrayal".

There are some people loose on the world who make it a much better place just by their presence. Jane Goodall is such a person to me. Her devotion to animals has been evident all of her life. Her important work with the chimpanzees of Gombe has spawned many books, all of which I can recommend. But the thing I most admire about Dr. Goodall is this - through all she has seen, the ignorance and cruelty of mankind included, she still remains hopeful. Do read her wonderful book, Reason For Hope, and you shall see why she is one of my heroes. I'm thankful we share the same planet.


10. A Mirror

I could continue this list for hours, I suppose. But I'll conclude here with a mirror that I'm holding up to you. Take a look inside! I am so thankful for each of my wonderful readers. Your comments and emails mean very much to me as I continue to chronicle my quirky little journey on this little blue globe swinging out in the darkness. I try to always visit those who comment, but I know I often fall short of that goal, especially now at this busybusy time of year. But please know, each of you, how much I treasure your thoughts and comments. I am consistently amazed by the creativity and caring, the wit and the kindness, you all share with me every single day.
As a holiday thank you for all my readers, I am sharing an exclusive coupon code for my Etsy Shoppe. The coupon is good NOW through the upcoming shopping weekend, ending at midnight on Monday and anything in my shoppe is 20% off when you check out with the code - 77edward26cadogan
You can visit the shoppe HERE.

Thank you all,
and Happy Thanksgiving