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Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thanksgiving 2010

BRRR.....Cold and Frosty

But blue sky and plenty of sunshine.  An hour or so of mingling outside in the backyard is part of the Thanksgiving gathering at a friend's house in Palo Alto that I go to.  A wet day would not have allowed that. 

Reading San Francisco Chronicle's Jon Carroll is a ritual I enjoy on Thanksgiving morning. It feels good.  This year he wrote about gratitude and the small things that add up to mean something.
"Gratitude is the antidote. It is a specific against a variety of diseases, from something as vague as the discontents of civilization to something as specific as personal grief - but gratitude is the antidote. Thanksgiving is the holiday of gratitude, and I am always willing to celebrate it.
We are told frequently that "it is what it is." That's a tautology, of course, and an increasingly grating cliche, but it gained prominence because it's a real reminder of a real thing: What happened happened. You can't change the past. All we have is today. See you in the future!
But regret is real. Sorrow and pain and loss - all real.
I sometimes think of civilization or society as a kind of floor, a patchy, rickety floor in constant need of repair. Below the floor is the chasm. Some people know that chasm well - those who have to scrabble to exist in war zones, those who have tried to cope after hurricanes or earthquakes, those who have lost multiple family members simultaneously. For them, the daily comforts of society are of little use. The network of routine, the solace of art, hope for the future - none of it seems real.
Only the chasm seems real.
The chasm is only metaphorical, of course, but sometimes we live our lives entirely within metaphors. Our choice of metaphors is just a matter of taste. There's no right answer on this quiz, kids.
But still we have to get through the day. And, I am convinced, the route through the day is gratitude. Because there is always something to be grateful for, and that something is not in the chasm, floats above the chasm, denies the importance of the chasm.
You choose: sunsets, apples, bedrooms in the morning, Bruce Springsteen, a child's second birthday, the smile on the face of a passing stranger, rivers, mountaintops, cathedrals, Shakespeare, Tina Fey, the curve of a thigh, the curve of a road, the nation of Switzerland, Carl Hiaasen, grass, orange, Bola Sete, jumbo shrimp, Pascal's Theorem, Ockham's razor, clean restrooms, potable water, penguins, French kissing or peanuts.
Can you feel the floor beneath your feet get sturdier? Can you see the holes being patched? For a moment, the bounty of the world overwhelmed you, and you were grateful to be alive at this moment. See? Antidote.
So today, if we are at all lucky, we will gather with family and/or friends and eat food and talk of shared alliances and shared memories. Many Thanksgivings are family gatherings, and family gatherings are often fraught. My suggestion is: Embrace the fraught. You'd miss the fraught if it weren't there."

Scenes from Thanksgivings Past 





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