I think if you were to ask me which holiday is the most meaningful, which one the most important to me personally, I would have to say Thanksgiving. Sure, Christmas is awesome, with the whole miracle of Christ's birth and our salvation bit, as is Easter for those reasons and then some, like the trampling down death by death thing. But if you were to ask me, which one I value and perhaps keenly feel the importance of the most, I would, hands down, every time, say Thanksgiving. I'll tell you why. (And I have in previous Thanksgiving posts so check the archives!)
Thanksgiving was the holiday I hated the most that year when Leo was born. I figured I really had nothing to be thankful for. Nada, zilch, all the good things in my life were a big fat zero. When asked to participate in the round robin voicing of thanks around the festal table, I wanted to pretend to choke on my turkey and slide under the table. I also felt guilty for feeling that way, because let's face it, things could always be worse. The problem was that I thought, at the time, that I really was at the bottom of the barrel of "things." I often referenced Mordor as an example to my state in those days. Me and gollum had a lot in common, I'm embarrassed to say. I wish I could have been more of a Sam, or the sexy Elf queen, but there you have it. The next year, Thanksgiving got a bit better, I mean at least I could be grateful that all of us and especially Leo, had more or less survived that hellish first year. So that was one thing. And so on it went through the years, until now, I find myself reflecting on Thanksgiving and realizing that right now, in my life, I don't even know where to start in listing all the things that I'm grateful for because there are so stinking many. What a change! How bizarre that in only four short years I have gone from having Thanksgiving on the bottom of the list, perhaps in the footnotes even, to having it on the very top; as numero uno!
And I can tell you, even though it doesn't have the earth shaking impact as the other two major feasts, it is the quiet wave which slowly and powerfully smooths out the most jagged surface. It is the silent and infinite sky that hosts the stars, and it is the warm and silent earth that shelters the fragile bulb. It is the gentle shade in our souls that shields us from the burning rays of this passion driven world. Thankfulness. The simple and often humble offering of thanks to those around, and to our Lord above. Simple, but not easy, because giving thanks is not a given, and not giving thanks is a given since we believe that we deserve so much. I deserved an unbroken child, dammit. I knew it down to my toes that I got cheated out of what everyone else had, and this perception poisoned everything around me. It poisoned my delicious turkey, it deadened my emotions and my heart towards others. Until, that is, I learned to give thanks tearfully, painfully, by stripping away that wretched entitlement, until the only thing left was simple gratitude. (Loosing a finger and almost dying from thirst is nothing Frodo, get with it.) And let me tell you, it is not a hallmark moment, because giving real thanks hurts. It takes an astronomical mental and heart effort to raise something out of the murky mire of our "self" and say, this was all mine (my precious) but I know that it's really not, and I'm ever so grateful for every precious moment that I was able to partake of it.
Every ray of sunshine, every smile from my broken, yet miraculously whole son, every wonderfully new and sassy thing my daughter comes up with, my loving and patient husband, and every loyal friend of ours and Leo's, I could not be more grateful. In fact, this thankfulness though it sometimes feels like an arm raised out of the fires of Mt. Doom, is the foundation of our fragile existence. Without Thanksgiving, we are lost to darkness. With it? Anything becomes possible.