‘Over the river and through the woods, from grandmother’s house we go…”
We’ve just touched down, home from a week-end trip to Seattle. It was sunny and unseasonably warm there, with people enjoying the day at cafe tables and chairs on the sidewalks downtown. We got lucky going to and fro over the passes, and now we pack up and point our car eastward this time, as we head to Billings for Thanksgiving and a few quiet days with the Millers at their cabin in the East Rosebud. We will all be complaining that it’s too warm to snow.
It was my turn to drive on Sunday afternoon, as we traveled through that long boring eastern Washington section, with only the crop names posted on fences for entertainment. By 3:30 Pacific Time, darkness was already descending across the fields, and I watched an ochre-colored sunset, happening below the clouds, in the rear-view mirror. It was well over an hour before the glow disappeared behind me, and I thought about how it is but a month now before we reach the darkest day of the year. On the Solstice, I like to consider what I want to let go of before the new year begins. What are the habits, the activities, the ways of thinking that are no longer serving me? What closes me off from myself or drains me of joy? Where do I find more gratitude in each single day? Well, I’ve got some time–and more road trips–to work on what might be a long list this year.
There is such bounty in being able to join family and dear friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. I hope I have never taken that for granted. I made my Mom’s Dutch Apple Pie yesterday afternoon, listening to music and watching the cold rain fall outside. I texted my sister to make sure I was using the correct sugar, and thought about Mom’s famous Thanksgiving dinners and how her three daughters, and a daughter-in-law, will all be making her pies. She always included a giant casserole of mac ‘n cheese on the groaning table, and now my grandchildren call that recipe, “Grandon’s mac ‘n cheese”, which he always makes for them. I often run my fingers over her crisp handwriting on those 3×5 cards. There are so many small moments, which often surprise us, to be acknowledged as well…
“I made cranberry sauce, and when it was done put it into a dark blue bowl for the beautiful contrast. I was thinking, doing this, about the old ways of gratitude: Indians thanking the deer they’d slain, grace before supper, kneeling before bed. I was thinking that gratitude is too much absent in our lives now, and we need it back, even if it only takes the form of acknowledging the blue of a bowl against the red of cranberries.”
Elizabeth Berg, excerpted from Open House