A moment of pause…
…Before gathering at your Tables of Gratitude.
(And please permit me to express my own gratitude for your engagement, your commentary, your kind words of encouragement.)
for the watchful clouds and sky,
your fierce heart aglow.
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Gratitude for photographer Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos grace the rotating banner at the top of this page. Some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lizhaslam/
Cirrus clouds photo by Andrew Hidas, with a serious assist from his iPhone and the heavens. Some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/93289242@N07/
Glowing grass photo by Nvenka Mazic, Zagreb, Croatia, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nevenka/
Thanks Drew for the reminder of gratitude for life itself. As you know, I lost my sister, Orma, last Sunday and am with family as we rejoice in her wonderful life and grieve at her sudden and surprising passing. We are renewed in gazing at the beautiful moon, and with deep breaths near the ocean in Southern California. My now-departed 80 year old sister recently published a book titled Path to a Wonderful Life; an accomplishment for which she, and all of us, are quite proud. We are so grateful that she lived to see the published copy and I am grateful to have been with her when the copy arrived at her home. Many thanks for all you do for all of us Drew—you are truly a gift to us all.
Thanks for sharing the story of your sister Jay & to echo your appreciation of Drew… for non-Bay Area readers, the annual Thanksgiving column of recently retired, long time SF Chronicle writer Jon Carroll is
well worth a read – he does a sweet job in his grat-e-tude…
A song of thanks; a grat etude
By Jon CarrollNovember 23, 2015
Jon Carroll has retired, but The Chronicle is publishing his annual Thanksgiving column one last time.
A while back I wrote a Thanksgiving column that everyone seemed to like, so I’ve reprinted it annually ever since. A few years ago, I wrote another Thanksgiving column, but this ain’t it. This is the original, slightly updated:
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It is comfortably free of the strident religious and/or militaristic overtones that give the other holidays their soft emanations of uneasiness.
At Christmas, for instance, we are required to deal with the divinity of Christ — I know some of you folks have made up your minds about that one, but not me — and on the Fourth of July we must wrestle with the question of whether all those simulated aerial bombardments represent the most useful form of nationalism available.
At Thanksgiving, all we have to worry about is whether we can wholeheartedly support (A) roasted turkey, (B) friends and (C) gratitude. My opinions on these matters are unambiguous; I am in favor of them all. The Squanto-give-corn stuff has been blessedly eliminated from the iconography, so the thrill of Thanksgiving is undiminished by caveats, codicils or carps. That alone is something to be thankful for.
Thanksgiving provides a formal context in which to consider the instances of kindness that have enlightened our lives, the moments of grace that have gotten us through when all seemed lost. These are fine and sentimental subjects for contemplation.
Let us start this year by being grateful for life itself. Think of respiration, where you take in oxygen (fortunately available in the air) and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants feed on carbon dioxide and spit oxygen. Such a coincidence. Or: the eerie beauty of the hand. The rare and remarkable ability to walk upright. Your eyes! Your tongue! Blessings on the component parts. Thank you, evolution.
And I am grateful for the teachers, the men and women who took the time to fire a passion for the abstract, to give us each a visceral sense of the continuity of history and the adventure of the future. Our society seems determined to denigrate its teachers — at its peril, and at ours. This is their day as well.
Even closer. Companions. We all learned about good sex from somebody, and that person deserves a moment. Somebody taught us some hard lesson of life, told us something for our own good, and that willingness to risk conflict for friendship is worth a pause this day. And somebody sat with us through one long night, and listened to our crazy talk and turned it toward sanity; that person has earned this moment too.
And a moment for old friends now estranged, victims of the flux of alliances and changing perceptions. There was something there once, and that something is worth honoring as well.
Our parents, of course, and our children; our grandparents and our grandchildren. We are caught in the dance of life with them and, however tedious that dance can sometimes seem, it is the music of our lives. To deny it is to deny our heritage and our legacy.
And thanks, too, for all the past Thanksgivings, and for all the people we shared them with. Thanks for the time the turkey fell on the floor during the carving process; for the time Uncle Benny was persuaded to sing “Peg o’ My Heart”; for the time two strangers fell in love, and two lovers fell asleep, in front of the fire, even before the pumpkin pie.
And the final bead on the string is for this very Thanksgiving, this particular Thursday, and the people with whom we will be sharing it. Whoever they are and whatever the circumstances that have brought us together, we will today be celebrating with them the gift of life and the persistence of charity in a world that seems bent on ending one and denying the other.
Thanks. A lot.
How she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her child-life, and the happy email@example.com.
Jay, it seems rather eerie—but in a good way—that Orma managed to get that book published and then died suddenly and unexpectedly so shortly thereafter. Such mysteries abound in that, and I’m reminding myself to avoid the easy contextualization (she’d awaited publication, finally achieved her goal, felt complete, etc.) and instead just “let the mystery be,” as Iris DeMent suggested we do. Thanks for these reflections and your ongoing devotion to a 50-year conversation.
Kevin, I’ve read every Jon Carroll T-Day column for probably the last 25 years (or whenever he started it) and this year was the first time I’ve missed it, me having finally dropped the Chron when life got too jammed and too many copies were piling up unread. So what happens when I finally stop reading his column? He retires! Think I’ll write him a note telling him if I’d known me dropping my subscription would cause him to get all bummed out and retire, I’d have reconsidered!
Thanks for sending this; it’s the usual jewel, and T-Day Weekend was not going to be the same without it!