Thanksgiving (the advertiser’s version): perfect family and friends gathered around an enormous table laden with food.

Thanksgiving (the real life version): too many variations to list, but absolutely not the perfect image we’ve been conditioned to expect.  

Thanksgiving (my version):  a day of gratitude.  Gratitude for family and friends and that we still love each other in our glorious imperfections.  Gratitude for food and the health to enjoy it.  Gratitude for freedom and autonomy. Gratitude for music and literature and all that opens windows into new worlds.  Gratitude for faith, hope, and love.  Gratitude that despite the inroads commerce has made on this day, it’s still a day devoted to saying thank you, not grasping for more.  

This year I’ve buried friends and watched helplessly as family members decline.  In my real-life Thanksgiving, this day is a poignant celebration of love—love that time, distance, cancer, dementia, and death can’t destroy.  This day is a cathartic release of dark memories and an embrace of the light, the good, the memories that shimmer with the best of the people I love.  It’s a day of gratitude for the privilege of being loved by good people. It’s acknowledgement that I’ve received far more blessings than I can ever give. 

This is the Thanksgiving I hope to carry with me for the other 364 days of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving.