Eliot said that April was the cruelest month, but November must run a close second.
Now it is dark again, and pouring rain (hooray for water seepage in poorly-drained basements…), and Thanksgiving imminent. Last year, I did not make it through this month very gracefully.
This year is my do-over.
Tonight, I have butternut squash-goat cheese-roasted garlic dip, sour-cream-and-chive mashed potatoes, and a pecan-pumpkin pie in the refrigerator, all waiting to go (something about this Thanksgiving seems to be about hyphens). I am not in a tizzy over the relative organization (or lack thereof) of our house. I am looking forward to seeing relatives from afar, Skyping with more relatives from afar, and eating the comfortiest of comfort foods with my family.
I have come a long way.
On Monday I went grocery shopping for Thanksgiving and the week’s necessities. Traffic was horrible. I needed the super-fast speed on my windshield wipers. It seemed like it was going to take forever to get to the store, and when I was done, I had made plans with a new mom of twins to visit her, and I was going to be way late.
One of the practices we did in meditation class was lovingkindness. My modification of it, as I sat in backed-up traffic, was to breathe in the pain of others, and to breathe out healing to them.
The nice thing about lovingkindness and peace is that most of the time, when you practice it for others, you gain it for yourself too.
An employee at Trader Joe’s gave me his pen when I asked to borrow one (I am a compulsive list-crosser-offer). There was a decent sized parking space for my minivan. I let cars turn in front of me. Someone came to bag my groceries. I did not stress about being late or worry about long lines. I was where I was, and it felt like the kindness I tried to radiate came back to me.
Then I visited C and her adorable 6-week-old twins. It made me grateful to snuggle a tiny baby, and also to give her back and come home to my vibrant, talking-and-walking little people who give me hugs and hand me books and want to know about the world.
She e-mailed me a thank-you today, which warmed my heart and reminded me of how grateful I am to have been returned to myself: someone who can give her support and empathy and reach outward, instead of surviving by burrowing inward.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and when I was younger, sometimes I felt like all the “what-are-you-grateful-for” got a little corny. This morning I found a beautiful saying about gratitude, sent from Maya: “When we are grateful, there is an understanding that challenges are blessings, that failures are gifts, and that our teachers come in many forms. In the grace of gratitude, we become who we were always meant to be.” –Jenai Lane
I am grateful for Audrey whose facility with language astounds me. Whose flexibility is amazing: in order to climb up on the couch, she doesn’t lift a knee like her siblings. She gets her foot about rib-level and levers herself from there.
I am grateful for Theresa who points and yells excitedly at many pictures in books–some whose names she knows, and others whose names she wants to know. Who snuggles contentedly in my lap.
I am grateful for Jamie who brings me book after book after book to read, and who loves whee-ing down slides more than anyone I know. Who loves to know how things work.
For all three, who periodically check in with me in their own ways: a hug, a walk, a smile, a wave, a request to be picked up.
I am grateful for my husband, who is my best friend and the best daddy and I can’t even say more about him because his goodness surpasses description.
I am grateful for this journey. For everyone in it.
Finally, this: (discovered on my friend Jill’s blog, Endless Skies)
God’s World, by Edna St. Vincent Millay