A Letter from Danielle for November ‘15
We’re starting into the early part of winter now, with the holidays drawing near. It can be the best part, or sometimes the most challenging part. But Thanksgiving is a very special holiday. At first glance, it appears to be all about food, and all the traditional things we like to eat on that day: turkey and stuffing (especially!!!), cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows on top, and some great pies: pumpkin, apple, mince meat, and pecan!!! And I can never resist second and third helpings of the stuffing – with gravy!!! It’s a wonderful opportunity to gather friends around us or be with family, if possible.
But what touches me the most about this holiday is the underlying theme of it, which is very powerful: giving thanks. In other words, gratitude. It may sound corny, or too trite, but whenever I can focus on gratitude, it changes something in my life for the better. We all have things to complain about, or that we’re sad about (and holidays aren’t always easy for many reasons), but if we can pull ourselves away from what’s wrong, and think about what we are really grateful for, it changes the whole perspective. It’s a day devoted to thanks, to be grateful for the people we love and appreciate in our life, or even the simplest things in our life, and the challenges. Gratitude can turn everything around!!!!
There have been years when I really had to stretch to remember what I was grateful for – when a marriage had hit a bumpy spot, or a relative had been unkind, or a child was difficult, or something major had gone wrong, like the year my son Nick died, two months before Thanksgiving, which was a tough holiday to say the least. Sometimes we think more about who isn’t at our Thanksgiving table, than about who IS there. No matter how tough times are, there is always something to be grateful for. I’ve had some wonderful surprises on thanksgiving too, like the year my daughter Samantha was studying in Italy and couldnt come home for Thanksgiving. But just as we were about to sit down to dinner, missing her terribly, she walked in the door. She had flown back home for one day, just to share Thanksgiving with us. That was one of my happiest Thanksgivings!!!
I’ve had some hard years too, when the best I could do was serve others. I’ve spent time with the homeless on the streets, I have friends who sign up at special kitchens for the holidays, to serve free meals to those who are in desperate situations and need it most. It’s a major wake up call, and reminds us that we DO have something to be grateful for.
The Thanksgivings I like best are those when all my children are home, and bring friends with them who don’t have anywhere to go for a holiday meal. The conversation around the table is lively, the atmosphere warm, and I sit back and think how lucky I am to have them with me.
And long ago, I had some very lonely Thanksgivings. I have always liked the phrase in the Bible that says “God puts the solitary in families.” Not always our own families, or the family we wish for, but sometimes when we’re alone, unexpected invitations happen to include us with friends and their families. And if not, we can be that blessing for someone else and invite them to our table.
There have been the funny years too: the year someone put the turkey in the freezer and forgot to defrost it, and I got up early on Thanksgiving morning and found it frozen solid, with no hope of defrosting it in time (before microwaves!!) I ran around to every supermarket that was open, bought a bunch of chickens, and we cooked the chickens instead of our rock hard boulder of a turkey. (Necessity is the mother of invention!!). And then there was the year our perfectly cooked turkey slid right off the platter right before dinner, and landed on the floor. Oopsss!!! Just like Julia Child on TV, I picked it up, dusted it off, put it back on the platter and no one ever knew what had happened!!!
Whether or not your Thanksgiving is funny or sad, or lonely, or overpopulated (even with a few people at your table you don’t really like and wish weren’t there – in laws or cranky relatives you dont get along with), I hope you can see the humor in it and feel the warmth. I hope you are either warmly included in a group of friends, someone else’s family, enjoy your own, or that you reach out to those who need you on this special day. And I hope for one moment, you think about what you are grateful for, and the blessings in your life.
Among my blessings, I am grateful for YOU!!! I’m grateful that you read my books and write to me. That my work has meaning for you, and that you have been so loyal to me. All my thanks and gratitude to you, and I hope this Thanksgiving will be especially wonderful.
PS – I’m doing a Facebook chat on Wednesday at 2pm EST / 11am PST. I hope you will join!