Many Thanksgivings ago
I drove brief rides with my parents and sisters
through a small town
to meet a large family
to eat large meals
on a holiday of cool Georgia weather with
football indoors and
football outdoors and
discussions of memories
creations of memories,
as more memories were in the process of
crafting and designing.
The smells of turkey and desserts, of bread and tea.
The cool Georgia air and warm family hearts.
those days, those times, those ways, those stories,
those songs, those wounds,
Those, these, then, us.
There, then, here, now.
Relatives eating and discussing
relative issues, or issues assumed
to be such but proven otherwise during dialogue,
which was okay because in some cases
conversations themselves were worth the words
and smiles and disagreements and laughter
and amount of calories enjoyed for Thanksgiving.
Many Thanksgivings ago
I drove with my wife and sons from Florida to Georgia
year after year
for a week of giving thanks and receiving food,
and giving and reviewing
Christmas presents as our one-month-early-because-we-are-together-now
The drives, the music, the conversations.
The gatherings, the gifts,
the good times had by all.
Debbie’s fall underground,
pain still felt decades later,
a story still being told.
Ball games played together.
Ball games watched together.
Injuries, laughter, feasting, singing, pain, pleasure.
Stories from then still being told.
A Mama so
distant for too long;
a story remembered, honored,
and still being told.
Memories and pictures and
more meals and more conversations,
still being told.
Of history. Of hope.
Of then and now.
Of is and isn’t.
Of life and death.
Of vehicles breaking down and
brains breaking down and
relationships breaking down,
but Jesus somehow meeting us in those places
of broken days and broken lives and broken families.
Eat, and be still.
Love, and be still.
Remember, if you can,
and be still.
A Thanksgiving like this one, on these days.
Life, again, though different, in northeast Georgia,
living, again, where I never expected to return,
and seeing seasons and their colors beside me,
and feeling seasons and their temperatures beside me,
as I type with chilled fingers and smile with a face
of true joy and glance at a rabbit toward the east
and a chipmunk having what resembles
a panic attack toward the west.
I guess we can call this life.
In a fallen world, yes, we can call it life.
But this is, as I may say too often, a world of wonder.
I give thanks.
Of family before me.
Of family beside me.
Of wife and sons, of their siblings and their children.
Of father and sisters and friends and strangers.
Of that Mama so distant and close
on a Thanksgiving week for meals and memories
is of value,
that all people are of value,
that I am to be thankful
as I love those who hate,
as I forgive those who view their lives
as having done no wrong,
as I realized my
damaged brain and damaged life and damaged everything
is not everything.
There is more.
It is near.
And I give thanks.