We ended up with a much smaller Thanksgiving this year due to the unexpected injury of our host and main cook. A cozy, thrown-together meal was served up on the kitchen table which had been moved into the living room to be closer to The Patient who was convalescing on the couch. Brined heritage turkey, sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, honey and thyme carrots, and cream roasted fennel. And cranberry sauce. And two pies (sweet potato and pecan) which were each delivered to the front door by their respective bakers. Although a much fancier and larger gathering had been planned, with the exception of The Patient's injuries, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Sometimes setbacks and disappointments take us right where we want to be, whether we knew we want to be there or not. So while the day was simpler and quieter, it was also closer to my heart and just about pitch-perfect in measure and tone.
It's rather unusual, I know, to appreciate the smaller and pared-down events in our lives. We're so conditioned to think that bigger, faster, brighter and better are the only ways to quantify our happiness and success. We've bought into the belief that life is a relentless push forward, a leaning into, an endless accumulation of achievements and rewards.
But being contented and even finding happiness in the backwards step is a worthy thing to cultivate. For as we know all too well these days, the natural flow of things is seldom a linear event. We must find what we need in the ebbing times as well as the times of abundance. We must understand that this lessening is also worthy of praise and appreciation. Besides, try as we might, we never seem to know the master plan of our lives, so who can tell where a setback is really leading us.
I'm aware that for some, my teeny-tiny Thanksgiving would be a feast beyond compare and this, too, helped me find it to be beautiful and satisfying. In giving thanks, we are on some level recognizing the basic unreliability of our world and our lives. Nothing is exempt from change, nothing is permanent. Nothing. And so we bow our heads, or clasp hands, or stare out the window, and find our way to express gratitude and maybe even a little amazement that for now, in this moment, there is enough.
Related: Weekend meditation: "...and the pursuit of happiness."
(Image: Dana Velden)