Archive for November, 2012

the season of thanks

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Well it snuck up on me again, the season of thanks, and the season of lights are upon us. It would be easy to just hear the noise…black Friday this, sale that, buy! buy! buy! But it really is the season of thanks.

I started thinking of this a few days ago, the one who holds my heart and I were heading out of town to a funeral, our fluffy cat had disappeared, and I got embroiled in resolving a tax issue on a car we hadn’t owned or licensed in Virginia for almost three years! Those things put me off balance, I’m forever worrying if I forgot to do something important…and as it turns out, I was.

By focusing on the resolution of the car issue, I wasn’t a very good partner on the drive, I was trying to get myself out of that mindset, to get to a point where i was really present, in the car, next to the one who holds my heart, driving into a beautiful sunset on the gulf coastal plain. My phone camera helped. Helped me see the beauty around me, forget the convoluted administrative structure I’d have to navigate on Monday, and really be there.

We arrived and went right to the visitation, kind of a wake, but they don’t call it that here, and then went and changed clothes, made a fire, and sat quietly looking at the stars and talking. It was going to be a busy day the next day, but that hour or so talking, sipping, and working the fire fully relaxed me. We talked about the fires at the little cabin, about gathering sticks and birchbark at “three-trees” the woodlot next to the cabin, about that feeling you get when you’re in the woods, out of sight of any road or building (it turned out there was a driveway all around the woodlot so we’d never get lost!) But the woods were a mystery place, would we find a set of antlers, or a tree freshly felled by a beaver, or an old boat mysteriously aground far from shore. The woods was a place where your imagination was in the foreground, not pushed back behind a schedule, a buzzing phone, and your to-do list. Dad would tell us about grandma building a smudge fire in the fireplace to drive out the bugs and things before they would “open up” the cabin, and sitting in the backyard, holding hands, the one who holds my heart again reminded me that the stick and bark gathering were another good parenting strategy mom would use to get us out of her hair, and be productively busy while she unpacked.

I like the woods up there, and the water of the lake, I miss that most days, like the calming effect the ocean has. Being small in something vast is like a humility-reset for me, even if the vast wasn’t really very vast.

The season of thanks often focuses on what we have, who we have in our lives. That must be passed down from the Pilgrims, thankful for the food and friends. This year I’ll include the past in my thanks as well. The memories, the experiences, Mom and Dad, my loyal sisters, my wonderful daughters, and the one who tends my heart so well.

Sometimes its easier to remember the pain in life, the things that didn’t go so well, but as we enter the season of thanks, try and remember the ordinary goodness too, the people who did right by you by not doing wrong by you. Its hard not to be focused on shopping and shipping this time of year, but try to get a few minutes…or an hour…with the stars, the fire and the one who holds your heart. Look up quietly, sip something warming, help the fire out every now and again, and remember…then, squeeze their hand a bit, look into their eyes and thank them. They are a big part of what keeps us from becoming our schedules, or our careers, or our possessions…

The light of the fire and the light of the heavens are calming lights, I never get that calming from my phone or computer. Fire and the visibility of the heavens are gifts from the darkness of this season. We choose our focus now, we can focus on the dark, or focus on the light. I think during this season, its especially important to focus on the light each of us brings to the table of thanks.

Remember to thank the ones who hold and fill your heart, past and present, here and away, its important to say the words.

Be good to each other! Thanks to all the good people in my life!