Published in the Rains County Leader on November 24, 2021:
In preparing to write this week, I read last year’s Thanksgiving column called “How Thanksgiving Grows.” The gist of the story was that, because of residual fears about COVID, none of our usual family gatherings occurred, so I planned to fix a small but special meal for David and me. However, by the time the big day came, we had three guests, and I spent the best part of two days fixing the customary multi-course feast. This year we will be sharing a traditional celebration with David’s sisters – and we had to turn down two other invitations.
Although I enjoyed the memories, the article didn’t help much with this week’s column. After that I went to Facebook and scrolled through my photos. I didn’t take many pictures last Thanksgiving, but I did find one of the kitchen island loaded down with food. There was also a photo of the leftovers the next day when we invited the neighbors back for a rerun. I remember feeling grateful that we could enjoy another go-round without all the work and also that all that food wouldn’t go to waste.
From there, I scrolled through the rest of the year. Again, there weren’t a lot of pictures, but there were enough highlights to inspire a gratitude list for this week:
- We hosted the same three neighbors at Christmas. I didn’t take pictures of the food, but I did get one of David, David, and Charles looking like the Three Amigos. I’m grateful for friends with whom to share life and blessings.
- Pictures of David and me at the gym wearing a Santa hat and deer antlers evidenced our dedication to a healthier lifestyle, and it’s working. We both feel better, and David’s blood sugar is almost normal.
- In January we didn’t get to celebrate Aunt Fay’s birthday, first because AJ’s is closed and second, because some were still avoiding gatherings. However, she turned 97 anyway, and she is doing quite well.
- February brought Snowpocalypse and life came to a halt, at least in East Texas. Thankfully, our little part of the world suffered only rolling blackouts, and we never lost water, so we survived nicely.
- Through the pandemic and the snow event, Believer’s Baptist not only survived but thrived. I loved the picture of a faithful member using his small tractor to scrape ice off the church parking lot.
- March included a celebration of our 21st wedding anniversary along with the reposting of our wedding pictures. I am still amazed and grateful that we found each other through a Yahoo personal ad.
- Pictures from both April and October showed two amazingly successful book sales. I am thankful for the hard-working crew from the Friends of the Library and to a community that loves to read.
- July was a month of seeing friends and family we missed in 2020. We spent the Fourth of July in West Monroe, Louisiana with David’s sisters, and I attended the annual ladies’ retreat in Mountain Home, Texas later in the month. Everyone was thankful for time to catch up on what we had missed, especially the hugs.
- While we lost loved ones during the last year, many others survived. Tennille beat breast cancer, Merry and Susan had successful open-heart surgeries, Charles and Bobby endured heart attacks, and Margaret is recovering from a stroke, COVID, and pneumonia. Grateful is not a strong enough word.
- A picture from this summer showed wet towels hanging on the porch railing, and I was thankful David was able to repair the dryer – again.
- In September we celebrated Labor Day in Louisiana, and later in the month we visited with my brother Jim and my sister-in-law JoLynn in Conway, Arkansas. Both visits were joyful times of love, laughter, and lots of good food.
- Some big events were still observed from a distance due to busy schedules and other obstacles. Nevertheless, we enjoyed giving our son Christian a hard time in October as he reached the big 5-0. And we marveled at the handsome and talented young man our grandson Mattias has grown into as he reached his 18th birthday in November.
- Earlier this month, I posted a picture of myself with an “I voted” sticker on my shirt. As confusing and sometimes disappointing as politics has become, I am still grateful for the privilege of making my voice heard through our system of elections.
- A couple of days after the election David and I, along with my cousin Penny, attended the long-delayed 55th reunion of the Mesquite High School graduating class of 1965. The many pictures showed how thankful we all were to be together again.
By the time this column reaches you, we will be celebrating – or possibly have already celebrated – the day that has been set aside to be especially thankful for all the blessings we share. My prayer for each of you is that, even in a time of uncertainty and confusion, your life includes many things to be grateful for. If you are not really feeling it, take a look back through the photos on your Facebook page or on your phone. It might just spark a fond memory or two.