Gratitude 2022

Thanksgiving.
The crescendo of my year.
With an enormous deposit in the Thanksgiving bank of happy memories, anticipation swells as I cross each tiny detail of preparation off my list.

It’s was the Sunday night before THE Thursday and the text arrived quietly as I was admitting a premature baby to the neo-natal unit.
“Hey, wanna do an unofficial Turkey Trot, the three of us on Thanksgiving morning?” That was my daughter Robyn.
“Brennan is a great cheerleader while running and will make sure we all finish,” she added convincingly.

A handful of years ago, jogging in a 5K event got written in permanent marker on my bucket list. An invitation to cross it off with my beloveds felt like winning the lottery without buying a ticket.
I briefly calculated the risks. I am an Enneagram 6 after all.
The snow had taken a dump the last three days. It could be icy. I can’t afford to break a hip.
I haven’t jogged in 4 months. What if I fail?
Or what if I jog so slowly, they laugh and tell me they might as well be walking. Could I risk that sort of humiliation?
I answered cautiously. “If it’s not icy on the trail, I’ll try.”
“If we do this, you’re not trying, you’re doing!” Brennan replied emphatically.
Well, OK  then….I guess I’m doing!

On Thanksgiving Eve, we all collaborated on our jogging strategies. Being a morning sleepyhead, I considered the merits of an energy drink or a cup of coffee but Robyn’s instructed, “Drink water, mom…but not too much.” “Eat something too, but only a little.”

Thanksgiving dawned all Pure Michigan sunshine. My baby decided to join the party and the four of us met up at the trailhead, the mood anticipatory and optimistic.
Brennan managed our playlist including several Disney favorites. The kids sandwiched me in the middle and we headed north. My favorite direction. There were friendly holiday greetings between strangers along the way. The kids occasionally added, “2 breaths in and 1 out.”  Or, “We’re halfway there!”  Or “Watch up ahead. I think there’s some ice.” 
Never did they run ahead. 
Never did they complain I was going too slow.
And when I started to hit a wall, they started a countdown. 
“3.1…. 3.11…. 3.12…. 3.13….”
We crossed the finish line together at 3.20 miles. 5 kilometers exactly.
“You did it mommy!” 
“You can cross it off your list!” They announced celebratorily.
Initially, I thought they’d invited me to join them in their thing, until I realized that they’d concocted this plan to support me in mine instead. I had been seen and heard and valued, the very definition of being loved. And right then, I felt loved.

The rest of the day had other green pasture moments. Traditions old and new, near and dear. 
Our sweatshirts read TAINGEIL. That’s Grateful in Gaelic, a nod to the memory of our hiking adventure in the Scottish Highlands last summer. A supremely good and perfect gift.

We wore them on our gratitude walk and listed the mercies, one after another. At the table spread before us, we joined the Psalmist in recounting the cornucopia of blessings God provides for his hungry children.

It is good to say thank you to the Lord, to sing praises to the God who is above all gods. Every morning tell him, “Thank you for your kindness,” and every evening rejoice in all his faithfulness. Sing his praises, accompanied by music. You have done so much for me, O Lord. No wonder I am glad! I sing for joy. O Lord, what miracles you do! And how deep are your thoughts! 
Unthinking people do not understand them! No fool can comprehend this: that although the wicked flourish like weeds, there is only eternal destruction ahead of them. But the Lord continues forever, exalted in the heavens, while his enemies—all evildoers—shall be scattered.
But you have made me as strong. How refreshed I am by your blessings! I have heard the doom of my enemies announced and seen them destroyed. But the godly shall flourish like palm trees and grow tall as the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted into the Lord’s own garden and are under his personal care. Even in old age they will still produce fruit and be vital and green. This honors the Lord and exhibits his faithful care. He is my shelter. There is nothing but goodness in him!

Psalm 92 (The Living Bible)

Once a year, on the fourth Thursday of November, we feast on His goodness. It’s the day we set aside to count our blessings and number our gifts instead of dwelling on our disappointments and rehearsing our annoyances. In a world where there is otherwise so much personal and communal sadness, injury, injustice and loss, Thanksgiving offers us a 24 hour sabbath rest from the chaos of another year. And for this year’s opportunity to celebrate with the ones I love best, I’m grateful.

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