Thanksgiving 2020

Of all the things that have provoked my anxiety in 2020, gravy-making holds an embarrassingly prominent spot on the list. Familiar readers will attest to my solid level of skill in the kitchen.  But the daunting task of creating this undeniably critical turkey-topping has negated any confidence gained from 25 years of culinary domestication.

For years I have left this intimidating aspect of Thanksgiving meal prep to the family matriarch.  But thanks to the pandemic, my pinch-hitter will be absent – safely ensconced in isolation where she will await a socially-distanced delivery of food made by yours truly.

If I’ve learned anything from the relentless ‘growth opportunities’ served up by 2020, it’s that I can do hard things, like surrendering my previously under-appreciated life to a virus, and separating pan drippings from fat to make gravy.

The invitation to rise above something as monumental as a pandemic (or a gravy recipe), has its appeal. A historical glance is enough to remind us that challenge and effort have a merit of their own, irrespective of outcome. If the figurative gravy over our lives doesn’t pan out this year, can we still enjoy the meal?

On one particularly memorable Thanksgiving, I thought I’d be fancy and cook a duck. One duck for twelve guests. Each ended up with a meager morsel of meat. By all accounts, it was the most delectable bite ever taken. Scarcity compelled us to savor.

Being thankful this holiday season may require more creativity than in previous years if viewed by its tremendous loss and hardship. Or it may be the most authentic expression of gratitude ever offered as a result of our whittled-down existence. Perspective will decide.

My offering this Thanksgiving Day is gratitude for all that has been given and taken, from every friend and foe. May our collective sentiments raise us up and remind us that Life, with or without gravy, holds something for us to savor.

Uncommon Gratitude

It’s easy to be grateful for sunshine and babies and love.  It’s common to be thankful for family and abundance and safety.

But can I be thankful …

  • For a husband who rarely agrees with me?  Yes, because he challenges me to either compromise or to re-affirm my priorities.
  • That I don’t have everything I want, and sometimes not even what I need?  Yes, the limits and scarcity keep me humble and motivated instead of smug and self-righteous.
  • That my body is ‘only human’ – subject to illness and injury?  Yes, the body’s signals force me to respect my limits.
  • That I’m no longer youthful?  Yes, because I get to watch people fall in like with me for my other assets without the distraction of a stunning demeanor.
  • For people that test my patience?  Yes, they challenge me to elevate my game.
  • For my children, my little mirrors, who often reflect the worst in me?  Yes, they present me with countless opportunities see what I otherwise hide from my own awareness.
  • For ‘bad’ things that happen in the world and to the world?  Yes, these things give ‘good’ people a chance to shine.

All of these people and situations belie their purpose.  I can barely fathom what they’re about at times.  But their existence forces me to look outside my own parameters or else suffocate in my self-made misery.

This Thanksgiving, I remind myself of these overlooked blessings in honor of Mom who reminded me before every birthday party that we are to say ‘thank you’ even if we don’t like the gift.

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