Tails From a Thanksgiving Expert

I’m an expert on thanksgiving. Just ask Mom. I’m thankful for just about everything and everyone. That dropped bit of bacon. Unattended hot dogs. Belly rubs! Sea gulls! Snoozes in the sun. Walks in the woods! My favorite blanket, right next to the heating vent.

Mom says words related to “thankful” include gratitude. Appreciation. Gladness. Being at peace. Contentment. Cheer.

See? Told you I’m an expert.

A few things that make my tail wag like a pinwheel:

The guy who walks by my yard every day. Mark has yellow hair and dark glasses. His voice is light and friendly. “I’ve never had much use for dogs,” he once said, reaching over the fence to pet me. “I was a confirmed a cat lover. Until I met Kimber.” He’s my best friend!

The lady across the street who delivers the newspapers. “Hello Kimber!” she says when she walks by. She has short dark hair. She smells like sunshine and good cheer. June also knows just where to scratch me behind my ears. She’s my best friend!

The lady in a wheelchair who smells like generosity and good memories. I always say “hello” when she rolls by. I smile. She smiles back. Mary’s my best friend!

I keep a sharp eye out for my next door neighbor. Sometimes I see Virginia out for a walk when Mom and I are out for our walk! I remind her how happy I am to see her! She smiles. It’s a sparkly kind of smile. I like that. She’s my best friend!

A big black dog lives across the street. She’s older. Doesn’t move so fast anymore. I say hello to her across the street. Lexy doesn’t usually answer. She’s not as talkative as me. But when we cross the street, we exchange greetings and neighborhood news. She’s my best friend! Sometimes Lexy’s grandpa comes to visit. He always saves me at treat. He’s my best… oh, never mind.

I’m also thankful for a job. Mine is patrolling the property and keeping everyone safe. I smell everyone who comes by, making sure they smell friendly. Every once in a while someone doesn’t smell right. I alert my family immediately! I’m the scout. The look out. Just ask the neighborhood cats and the deer who wander out of the woods.

On the job!

In fact, I often lie awake at night, making sure nothing happens to anyone in my house. It’s a big responsibility. But I’m up for it. After I make sure no one has died in their sleep, the next morning I take a snooze in that nice sunny patch in the yard.

Sometimes I talk to people when Mom and I are out on walks. My favorite people are the ones who are small and can’t really talk yet. They understand me just fine. And I understand them. We both know words like Mom and Dad and brothers. Sit. Snack. Lunch time. Car ride!

I used to tell these little people about myself. They knew what I was saying. They would tell me things back. Like, “Macaroni and cheese again?” Or “I am not ready for my nap! Am not! Am not! Am not!”

But I’ve noticed something. These little ones don’t stay little. They grow. Get bigger. Taller. Like my brothers. The more they grow, the less they understand what I’m saying. And the less I understand them. Especially when they start saying things like, “Internal Revenue Service.” “Presidential debate.” Or, “what’s the Wi Fi code?”

Meanwhile, Mom says, “Thanksgiving Day is almost here!” I’m not quite sure what that means. But if Mom’s merrily skipping about the house, cooking up a storm, it must be something good. So I’m up for it.

Thanksgiving 2017

On Thanksgiving Day, I’ll do what I do every day. Be thankful. Glad. Content. On. The. Job. I’ll make sure everyone who comes to my house smells right. Then all my best friends, new and old, will sit around the table and pass wonderful-smelling food around. I may have to sit on the porch. It’s so hard to stay calm with all the excitement and delicious smells!

But I have a plan. I’ll help clear the plates. You know, lick them clean. No one will notice. They’ll be too busy talking and laughing. Waiting for dessert. If I play my biscuits right, someone might save me a bit of their dinner. Or drop something under the table. Oh, happy day!

After dinner, I’ll snuggle into the recliner with Mom. We always watch George Bailey, Sam Wainwright, Mr. Martini, Bert the Cop, Ernie the cab driver, Old Man Gower and Clarence Oddbody, A.S. II every Thanksgiving night.

Family. Faith. Redemption. Best friends. Good food. A nice, warm bed. Long walks. Sunshine. A yard I don’t have to share with a cat. Told you I’m a thankfulness expert.

How ‘bout you?

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“Thanks-Giving” & The First 5 Minutes

Coming up with a clever, catchy “Thanksgiving” post can be a little like trying to re-write Gone With The Wind.  Ya just can’t improve on a classic.  I wasn’t even going to try this year.  Frankly, I was kinda “Thanksgiving-ed” out by yesterday.

Although Thanksgiving is traditionally family-oriented and a time to reunite with loved ones and gather around a roast turkey the size of Rhode Island, that’s not how our Thanksgivings typically run.

Parents on both sides have gone on to glory.  We live more than 1,000 miles from our nearest family members.  The rest are flung to the four winds, spread out across the country.  So weren’t not able to get together as often as we’d like, and almost never on Thanksgiving.

My husband is in retail, so Thanksgiving weekend is just another work weekend as the store struggles to stay in the black and hopes for a bang-up Christmas season. So our Thanksgivings are a little… shall we say, “non-Norman Rockwellish”?

A quick look around “Thanksgiving” in the blogosphere usually brings up something like: “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Or “How many people are you having over?”  “Are you traveling this Thanksgiving?”  “Who’s going to win the football game?” Or the well-worn classic, “What are you thankful for?”

Not to reiterate the obvious, but Thanksgiving is a holiday set aside to, uh… “give thanks.”  Count our blessings.  Lift our eyes off our self-soaked lives and look up to the Father of every good gift.

All well and good.

So why did I resist taking that route this year?  Well, basically because that route is easy.  Comfortable.  Expected.  It’s also a little … canned.  Predictable.  Rote?  Is that what Thanksgiving has turned into – “giving thanks” by rote – because we’re supposed to?

Lord, have mercy.

So this Thanksgiving, when some of us are still working off that third slice of pumpkin pie or that extra serving of gravy and mashed potatoes that we needed like a hole in the head, how ’bout determining to launch into “thanksgiving mode” year-round instead of just the last part of November?

Rather than relegating thanks-giving to one season or weekend a year, what if we took the first five minutes of each day to lift our hearts to God in honest thanks?  What if we went through each twenty-four hour stretch looking for at least one thing, person, context or event for which we can be grateful? I don’t mean Pollyanna or pie-in-the-sky bye-and-bye syrupy stuff.  I mean something that requires alertness, deliberation, and exercising our “thankfulness muscles.”  Examples:

  • “Lord, thank you for the 39th straight day of rain, a roof that doesn’t leak and the promise of an extra-green spring.”
  • “Thank you for my boon canine companion (or feline),” as the case may be.
  • “I’m grateful for hot showers and soap after an afternoon on the trail or in the garden!”
  • “Thank you for this morning’s sunrise.”
  • “Thank you for Corn Flakes and a bowl to eat them out of.”

Thanks also for:

Puccini arias. Truth. Faithfulness.Libraries. Friends and family. Mercy. Raspberry white chocolate cheesecake. Poetry. Lilacs. A good night’s sleep. Fresh snow. Divine guidance and providence. Ice cream and…  what else?

If we develop the daily discipline of deliberate thankfulness, I’m willing to bet we’ll discover whole new horizons of  wonder and beauty that were there all along.  We didn’t see them because we weren’t looking for them. We’ll probably find answers to prayers that we may have forgotten about, splashes of grace and  delight that we somehow overlook in our every day busyness.

Norman Rockwell or not, does that sound like an “exercise program” you can sign on to?  Who’s with me?