O Thanksgiving. . .
There were no words on the day before Thanksgiving. Only the horrifying pop pop of shots fired, hatred spewed, blood pooled, bodies felled. And empty seats around the table. The devastating news, yet again, and the lyrics running through my head, Peter, Paul and Mary singing, when will we ever learn, when will we ever learn? Or the plaintive call of the old African-American spiritual, when, O Lord, when?
I pushed the sounds, the images, out of mind on a glorious Thanksgiving morning in New York, when the warmth of the sun dispelled the brisk wintry chill, as we bundled up in layers of down and fleece and joined the throngs heading to Central Park for the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.
Strollers and scooters, little ones peeking out of parkas, older ones running ahead as they spotted the colorful balloons and heard the rat a tat of the drums and the call of the trumpets.
And I felt my throat catch, the worry clouding the revelry for just a second, the fear that danger just might be lurking in the crowds, that tragedy might just befall us.
And I kept on.
The morning did not disappoint, the perfect prelude for later loading up shopping bags with sides and nibbles, trudging to the train and joining the teeming hordes of moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, friends, family, laden with boxes and bottles, sweets and savories, wine and spirits, to share.
And arriving at our children’s home, the scent of roast turkey greeting us from the porch, the house spotless, the table beautifully set, the array of covered dishes on the counter ready for feasting.
The scurrying of little feet upstairs before the grandkids descended, hair still damp, smiles bright, dressed in holiday finery. And the arrival of the other guests, the warm hugs and hearty handshakes, the sheer happiness in being together yet again around the table.
And a long afternoon to evening catching up, delighting in the antics of the littlest grandchild, the growth of the older ones, one busy with Legos in a corner, another reading a story to a younger guest, then all crowded on the sofa watching Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving.
And after the last bite of pie, the last sip of coffee, heading out as day turned into night, sated, and grateful, oh so grateful, as we traced our steps back to the train, passing others saying their goodbyes, herding tired children into cars, stashing tin pans and plastic bins filled with leftovers along with them.
And home, replaying a picture perfect day, holding on to the special moments, and understanding what gifts we have been given. Life and love, home and family.
And the light that still shines bright in an oft dark world and the need to keep it burning. And the gift of a holiday to make it so.