For the past several Novembers, I’ve watched eagerly as my Facebook news feed turned into a gratitude fest with my friends posting daily things that they were thankful for, leading up to the big day of thanks itself.
But this year, it seems that Trump and Hillary, emails and lewd tapes, Democrats and Republicans (and third partiers), shootings and riots, legals and illegals, Harambe and alligators, and every other piece of news festering in my feed has robbed us of the one thing we need to concentrate on the most: a quiet moment to be thankful.
It reminds me of my favorite part of Thanksgiving.
Though I attended many praise services on Wednesday evenings in my childhood, I don’t remember a single one. No doubt, I sat through many readings of I Thessalonians’ invocation to “in everything give thanks.” I’m sure I droned out the dusty hymns that sat in the back of the hymnal: “Come Ye Thankful People Come” and “We Gather Together.” Albeit sincere, those services seemed terribly predictable and, quite frankly, just seemed like a desperate attempt to catch up on what we should have been doing every day all year.
In all those praise services, my attention span was shortened by eagerness for the pastor to say the final “Amen,” because Thanksgiving began for me as soon as the service was over.
Thanksgiving began for me as soon as the service was over.
When we got home after church, I slipped into a nightgown, then milled around the kitchen, waiting for Dad to change into his plaid pajamas and begin gathering the ingredients for Thanksgiving stuffing: two loaves of bread, a stalk of celery, an onion. He balanced three eggs gingerly on the counter. Then out came my mom’s biggest pot into which he plopped the butter. I stood on my tiptoes to watch the sticks grow shiny and soft, transforming into a puddle of gold.
Wiping his eyes on the sleeves of his T-shirt, Dad swept chopped onion pieces into the pot.
I rushed to hand him the next ingredient, my favorite, the celery. He chopped off the end and separated the stalks down to the center. “Can I have the heart?” I asked eagerly. Dad had taught me the term heart years earlier, one of the first years I was allowed to stay awake and watch the process, and I was proud to have remembered the term.
When he handed me the neon yellow center, I fingered it for a bit before nibbling the end. I hated—still hate—the taste of celery, but something about eating the heart felt exotic.
Scratch-clunk, Scratch-clunk, Scratch-clunk. The knife chopped through the fibers, and Dad added the green u-shaped chunks to simmer with the butter and onion.
Something about eating the heart felt exotic.
Finally the bread. His machete-like knife sliced through two loaves with Dad’s big hand holding the cubes in place. Crumbs sprinkled the counter as he dropped them to soak into the butter mixture.
Next the soggy cubes went into a big Tupperware bowl where he tossed them in beaten eggs.
To be honest, I’m not sure of the next steps because at this point, comforted by the kept tradition, I usually slipped off into my room and crawled into bed, the scent of onions and celery tucking me in. And in the stillness, with light seeping under the closed door and the sound of Dad’s pots and pans clinking in the kitchen, I counted all my blessings and fell asleep.
I didn’t type all of my thankfulness into a Facebook status this year. But this evening, when I crawl into bed, I think I’ll pretend to be that little girl again, wrapped not in the aromas of onion and butter but in the silence of gratitude and contentment.
I wish the same for you.