one small candle

This is a gratitude emergency.

Last year, for weeks before Thanksgiving, my Facebook news stream was full of little things that people were thankful for. This year, not so much.

Ok, so things in the world aren’t exactly perfect right now. The air out there is charged with the uncertainty that accompanies transition and that moment just before hope is lost.  On the scary scale, uncertainty is right up there with mannequins and clowns.

Jobs are uncertain, relationships are uncertain, health is uncertain. The news is dismal, the weather is weird, and people are cranky.

However, there is something about today that has just got to be great. Start small if necessary. Was your pancake good? Are you wearing your favorite sweater? Is your chair comfortable?

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about my blanket. I was so stressed and tired that I thought I had lost my mind, with the telltale sign being my proclivity for wearing this blanket as a cape. Eleven months later, I am again wearing the blanket as a cape. It’s fine, I get it. I’m a lady who wears a blanket for a cape as I sit typing in the dark early morning hours. It’s soft and warm and I’m happy to have it, even if it makes me look crazy.

You may, as I do, hate the idea that Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving Thursday. Let’s be thankful we can protest by refusing to go out there and get in a shouting match over a panini press with a stressed out woman in a Santa sweatshirt. My plan instead, is to eat an extra piece of pie and lay around, hard, just to make a point. Join me, won’t you?

The Muppets are back, and early reviews are good. You can say “wocka wocka,” and do your best Janice impression (everybody needs to have a Janice/Swedish Chef/Beaker impression at the ready in their backpocket.) Your kids will get it finally and you can feel relevant again!

Don’t forget the people. Of course we are thankful for the people  who love us unconditionally, and support us no matter what. Let’s not forget the ones who show up out of nowhere, and bring a little sparkle to the day, even if they don’t mean to.

Our church campus doesn’t get quiet during Thanksgiving week – it comes even more alive. Part of my job is to organize a large Thanksgiving Eve dinner that leaves me depending on an army of volunteers to show up the night before Thanksgiving and help welcome and serve a couple hundred people. Without fail, I have my annual dream a few nights before the dinner, that this is the year the volunteers forget to show up. That dream, along with the one where I am treated to unlimited shoe shopping, has yet to come true. Instead, on Thanksgiving Eve, I am once again surrounded by people who are happily hauling vegetables, counting spoons and lighting candles, though there are plenty of other places they could be.

And then, sometimes, the most significant wallop of gratitude comes from the smallest moment.

Part of John’s job is to oversee our church’s hosting of a shelter for homeless families the two weeks surrounding Thanksgiving. The campus practically bursts at the seams with our lovely guests and the volunteers who arrive in droves to tutor, cook, clean, sit and visit. I walked in on the action a couple of nights ago….not to lend a kind and helping hand, but to track down someone who had something I needed. I came in with an agenda, stomping around in a hurry, when a shelter guest approached me – a boy about 11, the same age as my eldest son. He shook my hand and introduced himself with a strong voice full of cheer and respect. He chatted for a moment before he excused himself, book in hand, to find a quiet spot in the shelter to read. I wanted to yell after him, “When the day comes, you have my vote!” Instead I stood dumbly staring after him as he disappeared behind a curtain.

“That kid’s amazing; he’s going to do great things in life,” John gestured to the boy, after noticing I’d been struck speechless by confusing emotions –  awe, sadness, guilt, frustration that there are kids in crummy situations, and affirmation that kids  – any kids at all – are capable of such poise and manners. I had come in to the shelter with my thinking eyebrows and gameface on, and that boy was the one who had graciously welcomed me to his very temporary home, which on most days is just our church’s Fellowship Hall. I left, not brimming with gratitude for my house, hot meals or creature comforts, but thankful that I’d met someone who is out there doing what we are all tasked with….reflecting light, joy, hospitality, and kindness into a world that could really use it.

“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of one small candle.” – Anonymous

I am thankful for you! Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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4 thoughts on “one small candle

  1. Diana says:

    Love your writing style and especially your sense of humor! I hopped over because of your “Freshly Pressed” post on organization, which was great by the way. And then I kept finding more funny stories and a few great posts on being thankful. So *thank you* for the laughs today. Keep writing!

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