1. a national holiday celebrated as a day of feasting and giving thanks for divine favors or goodness, observed on the fourth Thursday of November in the U.S. and in Canada on the second Monday of October
B woke up at 5:20 this morning. Given that we spent nearly nine hours in the van yesterday and the girls went to bed after 9:30 last night, this was not good. J and I told her to go back to bed and try to fall asleep. We even suggested she sing her choir songs in her head to help her find sleep again. Instead, from the room next door, I hear B urgently whisper her older sister's name once, then twice. Knowing this was a recipe for disaster, I crawled out of bed, put on walking clothes and told B to join me for an early morning walk.
As we walked, B commented on the many things she likes about Alabama: the quiet, the way we can see the stars so clearly, hearing an actual rooster welcome the day, huge pine cones, etc. These ideas were shared on the front end of our walk. But the time we were heading back, she had something else to offer, "You know what I don't like about Alabama? It's moist." She was right. While it was only 6 AM, it was already muggy. Not the weather you normally associate with Thanksgiving - at least not if you don't live on the Gulf Coast.
After we'd given everyone enough time to wake up, B and I returned inside, where I found myself making cranberry apple dressing to be a part of our Thanksgiving lunch. I had intended to make the dressing, along with my Granny's cranberry salad, before leaving Nashville. But a stomach bug left me feeling like the least interesting part of this Thanksgiving would be the food. I did manage to construct the dressing without feeling nauseous, but I have a feeling I'll be less focused on the food today than in year's past.
All of this has made me think about what Thanksgiving is and isn't.
It's not about crisp autumn air when it's humid and nearly 80.
It's not about turkey and fixings when plain buttered toast will do.
It is about taking a day to remember all there is to be thankful for - from big things to little ones, life's everyday graces. Because the big things merit thankfulness, but they are often enough to get my attention anyway. It's the small things that I take for granted, that I want to be more awake to, more aware of, more regularly thankful for.
I figure it's no coincidence that Thanksgiving immediately precedes Advent. While it isn't technically a part of the liturgical year, if ever there was a time of year to be thankful, it's Advent. And I love the way Thanksgiving helps prepare our hearts for the coming of this special time of year. Thanksgiving has always been J's favorite holiday. For the first few years of our marriage, this puzzled me. Who could possibly like Thanksgiving more than Christmas? Christmas with its traditions, carols, trees, decorations and parties. Christmas with giving and receiving, eating the same food's year after year, celebrating the birth of Christ.
But I get it now. Thanksgiving is essential to Christmas and I love both holidays. We can't properly celebrate Advent without having a mind set on giving thanks. This is part of the reason we do a Thanksgiving letter annually instead of a Christmas card. (Another reason is that it's far easier for my children to complete the writing prompt, "I am thankful for..." than "During 2010, I....")
So I hope today finds you thankful for wherever you are - with friends or family, in cool climes or warm ones, feasting or fasting. And I hope setting your heart on Thanksgiving will prepare you for all of Advent's many graces.