Season For Thanks
May Your Holidays Be Filled With Gratitude
article by Cindy G. Foust
Happy fall BayouLife readers! As we live and breathe, we find ourselves on the cusp of the official 2015 holidays. Every year about this time, I know I write the same language, but who’s with me that we just put the Christmas gooble-dee-do in the attic? You know, science might do themselves a favor to try and study my brain and its ability to create new vocabulary words at the swipe of the keyboard, so they can attempt to mass produce the gene, like Henrietta Lacks, who is considered by many to be the mother of modern medicine (gosh, I sure hope that wasn’t a run-on). It’s a fascinating read if you want to look her up, her story, her life. Rabbit hole? Where are you rabbit hole? I’m off on another wild goose chase, or turkey rather, in honor of this great month, November, and sincerely, my favorite time of the year.
You would think that because it’s my favorite time of year, I could just sit at the keys of my computer and crank out an article that is both riveting and compelling and quite possibly, a candidate for the Nobel Peace Price for Literature. Well, readers, it’s just not that easy. On a crisp (I know it’s not crisp, I know it’s still 95°, I know we are still running the air conditioner at full capacity, but perhaps using the word “crisp” will bring us a heat wave reprieve), October day, I found myself staring out the window of my office, watching the wind blow and wishing it would blow in a brilliant topic for this month’s article. Since I have never dedicated an entire column to great food ideas, my first thought was to suggest several mouth-watering recipes like a caramel apple truffle (Excuse me? But caramel apple mud would be scrumptious) or maple glazed turkey with bacon and sage butter (but if anyone wants to make this for me and deliver it to the BayouLife headquarters, I would love you much much). But who am I kidding? I’m not the Barefoot Contessa of the Twin Cities and we have other columnists who would do a better job than me in the culinary department. Then I thought I might write about whether it would have been more fun to be a pilgrim or an Indian. I bet that page turner would have my readers tearing this column straight from the magazine and using it to start their fireplace, even though it’s still 95° outside. The next brilliant topic that blew in had me convinced that I should write this month’s column on how to catch a turkey. Until it occurred to me that I had no idea what in the ding dong I would have you do with it once you caught it. Shave it? De-feather it? Boil it (like Fatal Attraction, only with Thomas the Turkey instead of Peter Cottontail)? Can you say no way, José? Oh, the ideas ran deep and wide, as I sat staring into the tree tops on Chason Lane. With my brain aflutter, and my thoughts surrounding this favorite holiday, I watched with interest how the wind continued to blow in one direction, and then suddenly it would go still, and then change directions yet again, without notice or warning. I started thinking about how life, like the wind, does exactly the same thing. This realization startled me as I began to compare this sort of basic analogy to my own life, and how this past year, since last Thanksgiving, it is a life that has changed on so many levels.
Like the wind, that I sat watching gracefully move through the big oaks in my front yard, my life has changed significant directions since last Thanksgiving. For instance, this Thanksgiving, my beloved grandmother will not be here to make her dumplings or greet my family in her living room as we gather to give thanks. This Thanksgiving I am watching my precious mother-in-law, who last year was able to make the family dressing, battle the cancer demon with more bravery and dignity than I know I could ever muster, without complaint, and with complete faith that “what will be, will be.” This Thanksgiving, people that I am close to and people that I may only know on the fringe, are facing a holiday season without their loved ones, many that were given up in the youth of their lives. As I continue to observe, and think, the wind stopped for a few minutes, as if to say, jump on for the ride. As cliché as it may sound, this ride, like the one that Ebenezer Scrooge was forced to take, suddenly had me mulling, despite the loss in my life, or in your life if my column is resonating with you at all, the many things I still have to be thankful for.
In a season that typically swallows folks up with stress and worry and anxiety over trivial things, I found myself wanting, for the first time that I can remember, to engage my family in an activity of thankfulness. Sure, like many of you, I have discussed things I am thankful for with my children, with my husband, but I wanted something a little more permanent, something we could look at throughout the season. As if they were calling my name, I wandered out to my front yard and surveyed the big trees that grace my front lawn. I hope I don’t offend any tree huggers out there, because I love them as much as the next person and I had no intention of going Paul Bunyon on one and cutting it down for the sake of my family project, but I found a small limb near the bottom of the tree. I snapped it off. I went to my garage and found a small, galvanized bucket to serve as the vase and using a small piece of Styrofoam, I secured it tightly, and covered the hole with some moss (the green kind, not the spooky, kind of gray stuff that hangs near the water). Okay, I was satisfied with the look.
I brought in my sort of earthen creation and put it on the table. I stared at it for a few minutes before finding some black cardstock and yarn. The next thing you know, I have cut nearly 50 circles, and punched a hole in the top of each one. I then tied a piece of yarn through each circle, and made, if you would, an ornament. I saw a few looks, as my family got home, at my makeshift tree, but no comments. That night, I called a family meeting, which usually means mom is coming down on somebody’s dirty room or could everybody please put their towels in the dirty clothes hamper. To their surprise, I passed out my black circles and had my family, with a little piece of white chalk, write the things they were most thankful for.
Admittedly, with a few strange looks and a few comments (under their breath), they humored their mother and gave me a momentary flash of relief that my children, and husband, do in fact, have grateful hearts. What does Brittany Spears say, “Oops, I Did It Again?” I navigated a column from Henrietta Lacks to Fatal Attraction to a simple family project. As elementary as it may sound, this family project sits proudly on the island in my kitchen, to serve as a constant reminder, that as bad as things may seem, everyone, including you and me, have plenty of things to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving dear BayouLife readers, may your holidays be filled with gratitude, with thankfulness and with holiday traditions, even as simple as a grateful tree, that keep you mindful of the blessed lives most of us are fortunate to lead.