It is Thanksgiving week, and everyone seems to be in a panic about what to do. Should we go? Should we stay? Should we cancel? Should we share in the breaking of the bread? So many questions and yet not quite enough answers for all of us.

I do think by now we have all scaled down the dinners, the games, the fun for the upcoming Thanksgiving. Yet here I am on this beautiful late autumn day thinking about pure gratefulness and the joy we can still share, no matter what.

Those of you who have followed me and my column for years know that in the past my old house runneth over, so to speak with family. Each room was full. Each quilt was used. Each dish was washed a hundred times. As each family arrived a schedule greeted them in their respective rooms. The schedule contained 10 days of fun for 10 people. I really didn’t even give them room to breath although one evening I declared “free time!”

I still cling to those memories and the way this house bustled. With all the leaves in the table, my kitchen fed so many folks during those days of 10. Laughter still echoes as I remember the time we had to thaw out the turkey with the hair dryer. Or the year Aaron shot a turkey, but it was presented on the beautiful platter minus one leg. Or the year Kristin came up from the basement saying, “I think there is a bird in your cellar.” It was, of course, a bat, and all the kids were thrilled.

The year Jonah was born we had a snowstorm the night of Thanksgiving. Uncle Adam took him outside to see his first snow. The snow was so heavy that night that it split the tree outside my dining room window. The kids all whispered about it saying, “Do you think mom will notice?” I noticed and I cried. Tonya, always the artist, painted a tree on the window so I wouldn’t be so sad.

My stories mix with your stories. My tears mix with your tears. This year the old purple house is silent except for the rumbling of the furnace and the whistling of the kettle. Yet, gratefulness abounds.

I mean, we are still here. Me and you. So far, so good, right? And in this cautionary tale of the virus that we will tell in years to come, there is still good and there is still hope. Lucky us. I am writing in a warm, cozy house. Chances are you are reading this in your warm, cozy house or at the coffee shop or online. All of that means we have everything we need. Many do not.

If you want to be grateful (and I am talking to myself here also), then we need to make sure we give accordingly to those who are struggling. There are so many wonderful programs that have been canceled, yet there are many who are doing the good work. First of all, the Tri-State Unity Team is taking on family wishes and expenses. You can donate to them. There are projects in Fremont, which will be helping families. And the blessing boxes? In Angola, there are two blessing boxes. One is by St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and the other is by the Holy Family Episcopal Church. My suggestion? When you shop this week, this winter, this year, this forever … buy a little extra and stop off at the blessing box. It is so easy. And I suggest you take a child with you. It is one thing to talk about giving, but it is another thing to show them.

And, yes, things are different. I miss them, too. But opportunities are around the corner to make our lives a bit richer. Santa’s arrival in Angola will be at the old high school, the Steuben Community Center, 317 S. Wayne St., on Friday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Drive by, say hello, drop off your letter! (What? Write an old-fashioned letter?) I guarantee this will be a Santa visit your kids will never forget. Shop small next Saturday. Support, support, support your local businesses for your shopping. Gift certificates are really nice, too.

“Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!” Fra Giovanni (1435–1515)

Happy, grateful Thanksgiving.

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola at the White Picket Gardens where you can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, teacher, writer, actress and a collector of front porch stories. She can be contacted at locketof time@aol.com.

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