When I was a little kid, Thanksgiving was coloured leaves and dew on the grass and dinner at bedtime -- because we never got the massive turkey into the oven early enough. When the feast finally materialized, my dad would struggle to liberate his legs from beneath the head of the cramped picnic table in the cottage kitchen, and get to his feet to propose a toast.
The diners would hush, in deference to his projected earnestness and ceremony, and it was then that I would have some sense that there was a deeper meaning to this school holiday than I had previously assigned it. But then my dad would sit down again and the noise would swell up and the moment would pass.
Times have changed
There have been way too many Thanksgivings since then, all of them tucked into the pockets of my memory like scavenger hunt finds. I now enjoy the privilege of sitting at the adults' table instead of the makeshift arrangement with the mismatched chairs and the sense of living-room exile that was the kids' table. But becoming a big person has had its disadvantages, too.
Now I'm an unwitting member of an audience to a constant barrage of news on abductions and accidents and terrible despair. The world is suddenly filled with more unthinkable sadness and more arbitrary tragedies than ever would have occurred to me during those benign Thanksgiving gatherings of my childhood. And so the impulse to give thanks on this autumn day now makes more sense than I could ever have imagined.
What I'm thankful for
I try to make my thanks both wide-ranging and specific. Of course I am thankful for my family. And for my house and my career and the various comforts of our lives. But I think it's useful to consider the exact nature of your gratitude in order that nothing -- not even the way your kid mispronounces "umbrella" -- gets taken for granted.
For example, I am thankful for the confidences I hear my little girls exchanging in their bedroom at night. I am thankful for the sight of Finn puttering around the toy kitchen, and for the way his hair looks after a bath. I am thankful for our stroller rides to the park. And for the way my baby so fearlessly takes on every slide he encounters.
Celebrating the everyday triumphs
I am thankful for Kenya's wild imagination and for Malindi's extraordinarily absurd sense of humour. I am thankful for our established rituals, like peeking into ears for dreams at bedtime, and dancing to Cat Stevens after school. I am thankful for slippery-as-a-dolphin baby skin. I am thankful for Finnie's bowlegged walk and for Kenya's compassion and Malindi's brown-as-coffee eyes.
I am thankful, this Thanksgiving, for the almost six years I have basked in the role of Mommy. Nothing has so changed me or so charmed me. Nothing has so poignantly brought to the surface the imperative to savour every sweet moment that punctuates the rushing parade of childhood lest it never return again. And to be thankful to have been included in the procession.
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