Welcome to December. With the excitement of Christmas and the looming New Year just ahead, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life and skip over Thanksgiving. The meaning behind the holiday should linger beyond just a single day. It’s so much more than a meal, football, Black Friday prices and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
When it comes to Buddy, this time a year ago I was consumed with counting our lasts. Christmas, birthday celebrations, sneaking gravy soaked turkey under the table to a waiting mouth. These are, and will be things I will miss. And while I recognize that the coming year will bring many firsts without Buddy, I am most thankful this year for the Thanksgivings that still live in my heart.
Thanksgiving is the year Buddy was an opportunist. When no one was looking he quickly pulled the turkey carcass from the trash and headed for an empty room. I’m still filled with thanks from that year that my mother never found him devouring it on her oriental rug. Thanksgiving, for me, is being thankful for the cleaner I found so she would never know, and that I pulled that leg bone out of Buddy’s throat just in time before he choked. Being thankful on Thanksgiving was the year I caught him in time with that chocolate turkey in his mouth and waking up from a post meal nap to find Buddy pressed at my side. It’s being thankful he vomited that napkin that cleaned up the spilled turkey juice. It’s sharing my pumpkin pie and seeing him lick whipped cream from his nose. It’s helping himself to my mother’s baked apple crisp before it was served.
Thanksgiving is the aroma of warm pumpkin spice muffins and molasses cookies fresh from the oven. It’s being surrounded by friends and those whom I love. It’s serving Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate and cooking clam chowder by a wood stove inside a warm log cabin with one of my dearest friends. It’s helping others in need and making chicken soup to help fight a cold. It’s being surprised with cookies and a hand-made wreath, biscuits and pumpkin bread and playing a board game with my girl. It’s watching a snow squall after a steak dinner with friends, meaningful long distance conversations and voicemails filled with love from my Dad. It’s warmed-up leftovers and fresh fallen snow on moonlit nights. It’s Bing Crosby on road trips to family with Buddy and grace at the table with him at my feet. It’s movies and blankets and popcorn with butter. It’s tagging that tree and eggnog with rum, big white snowflakes falling slowly from the sky, hot cider, wood stoves, fleece sheets and electric blankets. It’s listening less to the news and more to the crackle of an open fire on a cold and stormy night. It’s cleaning the dishes and the stench of Buddy’s turkey gas. It’s carving the bird on the table while you explain to your Aunt Gene why you’re not married and what you do for a living. It’s airport layovers and delays. It’s about seconds with extra gravy. It’s that rickety old card table you sat at as a kid and mashed potatoes molded into inappropriate shapes. It’s the post-feast unbuttoned pants while snoring, burping and farting at once. It’s the year I returned home from shopping locked out of the house. There I stood gazing through the window at the Thanksgiving trash strewn all over the kitchen floor and Buddy sleeping in his bed next to what was left of another turkey carcass.
This is Thanksgiving. It’s your life today and each day of the year past. It’s your true friends and the ones you’ve lost. It’s your bickering family, dad’s ugly sweater that’s much too tight and Aunt Mildred’s’ bad breath. It’s your thankless job and your health as it is; your accomplishments, failures, victories, defeats. No matter where, or with whom you spent the holiday, I hope you took a minute to reflect on what is most important and the time you have left with whatever it is you love most.
No matter what cards you were dealt this past year, there is so much to be thankful for.
This year, I am thankful for the excitement of Christmas, hanging up lights and the coming New Year. And I was thankful once again, to feed turkey under the table to a newly awaiting mouth.