“Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me,’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ ” ~ Anne Lamott
Thanksgiving is always one of the most evocative holidays for me.
Each year, memories of prior Thanksgivings rise and crest in my mind:
- The Thanksgiving with my grandparents when my brother and I started making yam jokes, (uh oh, does anyone have an extra yampon?) culminating in renaming our grandpa’s wife our “Yamma.”
- The Thanksgiving when my uncle announced that he and his new wife were expecting a baby. Somehow I knew this baby would be a boy, and he is now an amazing 18-year-old.
- My first Thanksgiving away from home. My friends and I guzzled wine coolers and yelled “Gobble, gobble, gobble,” from the rooftop of my apartment building. It felt so irreverent and exhilarating to break tradition so steeply, to sculpt something of my very own.
- My last Thanksgiving with my brother. We danced across my grandparent’s mauve carpet to Fleetwood Mac songs, young grownups that we were, and it was one of those moments when I slipped into the moment and the music and I felt totally full and alive.
The holiday is like a charm bracelet: each sliver of the past dangles and gleams, each different but connected by the day itself, circular and solid.
In my chest lies an ache the shade of a robin’s egg, speckled and pure. So many have left this earth. So many others, like me, have moved far from home. All of these days of the past live inside me, mingling with the sweetness of the present: the sound of my kids giggling outside as they watch the world go white, hurtling small cakes of snow at each other.
My prayers today are these:
Thank you for letting me love so many people, even as that love sometimes cracks my heart open. Thank you for this good, good life, for my husband, my kids, my parents, my friends.
For this day that is not about the food, but the faces around the table.
Please help me to be here, to be present, to let me see the faces in front of me, because they are as smooth as stones, as open as the sky, and mine just for this moment.
Even if they are grouchy and red-faced, and even if I am grouchy and red-faced. Let me feel it.
Let me be here so that if I’m blessed with many more years, I’ll remember this day with a vagueness. I’ll be unable to quite capture the sweet lilt of their voices, the press of their small hands in mine, but I’ll know that I was lucky, so very, very lucky.
And I’ll say remember when? When the kids were little? When we were still young? It was so hard, and so good.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Flickr/Satya Murthy