Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful in the Present

Among the recipes I pull out every Thanksgiving is this one for Harvest Cranberry Sauce. It was one of the first I used as a grown-up hosting other grown-ups at a holiday dinner: I had worried to my boss that my recipe for cranberry sauce included throwing whole oranges into the blender, and I didn't think my new husband would like it, because I certainly didn't. Susan brought me her own handwritten recipe for an easy, foolproof cranberry sauce that will convert the most rabid anti-antioxidant.

Three years later, I cried as I made this recipe; Susan had just died of breast cancer at age 41.

Life changes, whether we are ready for it to change or not.

This Thanksgiving dinner gathering will be smaller than some years. One sister and her family are dealing with health crises in aging in-laws, and they will eat turkey with these in-laws. A brother is in Australia. Boy#2 is in school half a country away and cannot come home for two major holidays within a few weeks. One nephew is in boot camp, another is studying overseas. My mother-in-law's ever more precipitous aging process may keep her from being at the table. And of course, the chair that until two years ago would have been filled by my wise and wonderful mother will be vacant again this year.

Live moves on, whether we are ready for it to move or not.

Tomorrow I'll serve Susan's cranberry sauce to 20 or so of us gathered in gratitude. Later in the day I'll knit some stitches into the sweater my mother had on her needles when she died, a sweater that will keep a child warm when I finish it. I'll Skype with my Boy who's not here, and be astounded at the opportunities these young'uns have.

Life is good, whether we recognize the goodness or not.

It would be tempting to mourn the gaps around the table this year, but the gaps are part of life, in all its changing, moving goodness.

I'm thankful in the present.