Thursday, November 25, 2010


I think of the holiday of Thanksgiving as one of those "listing" kind of days. Not listing as in maintaining a permanent tilt to one side or another (although, if you eat enough turkey and stuffing, there is a degree of danger that comes from over-achieving). No, Thanksgiving is a listing holiday like New Years Day is a listing holiday. Time to pull out pencil and paper, or stand and give a formal declaration about all those things you are thankful for.

Ending your sentence with a preposition may or may not be one of those things.

Since I'm 50% list-phobic and 50% list-deficient, a listing holiday doesn't bode well for me.  I'm afraid I'm going to forget something.  I'm afraid it won't be profound enough.  I'm afraid it will be too serious.  I'm afraid of what others might think.  I'm afraid that nobody will care.  I'm afraid I'm not thankful enough.  I'm afraid I'm too thankful.  This list -- unlike others -- goes on and on.

In reality I'm nowhere nearly as neurotic it sounds.  And yet, any one of those phrases are plenty enough excuse for me on any given day.  And the truth is, I usually approach the whole thing by thinking, "yeah, I should figure out what I'm thankful for" ... and end up doing nothing.

Of course I'm thankful for family, friends, a place to live, food to eat, a job (OK, two jobs), transportation and warm clothes. But all those seem so obvious. It's like saying that I'm thankful for breathing.   Which I am.  It's rather important.  But if I need to enumerate my thanks beginning at the cellular level, we'll be here a long, long time.

Instead, I'd rather tell you that I'm thankful for the health and healing, and the care and comfort I've seen over the past year.  From a new-born infant to life-long friends, to parents and grandparents, I have seen the miracle of medicine and the power of prayer do absolutely astounding things.  I've seen friends and families pull together, circle the wagons and watch miracles happen.  They are the heart and soul of this fight, and the medical community is the 13th player on team, providing the well-needed muscle.  But there have been times when the fighting is over and friends and family are powerless and broken.  It's then I'm thankful for the medical community and health care providers as they step in and serve as both shoulder and crutch, providing medical and personal comfort as life transitions peacefully and gently.

I'm thankful for infectious smile, the giggle, the somewhat inappropriate titter and the raucous belly laugh.  In a world where so many would like to tell you there is NOTHING funny and NOTHING good anywhere anymore, humor -- be it silly, punny, racy, obtuse or as subtle as a falling anvil -- helps us realign and reboot our sense of perspective, even in the midst of very loud naysayers.  Nayshouters. 

I'm thankful for the wisdom that is found in the likes of kindergartners and fortune cookies.  They both get to the heart of the matter without messing around.  Sometimes the syntax is a little sketchy and the words get lost in translation, but the heart, the meaning, and the honesty is always there for the taking. 

I'm thankful for second chances and new opportunities.  The weather changes every day.  If I don't like today, maybe I'll like tomorrow.  If not then, maybe the next day.  Every book in my house brings new people to meet, stories to tell, and adventures to embark upon.  Putting my iPod on "shuffle" all day brings me 10,000 surprises.  Sitting down with new music books gives me the chance to discover new music, new poetry and new sources of inspiration.  The students I teach walk through my studio door each week and seem to be filled with endless possibilities.  They inspire me and surprise me every day.

If I was really pressed, I would have to say the thing that I'm most thankful for is all those people and lives and experiences that are intertwined with my own.  To be able to share joys and sorrows, successes and hardships, laughter and tears, is to be reminded that I'm not alone out here, slogging it out in the trenches of life.  We're all in it together.  And for that, I'm truly, truly thankful.

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