Gratitude for Here and Now

Happy Thanksgiving.  It’s a bright sunny morning in northwest Vermont and if we had huge balloons shaped like cartoon characters, we would absolutely have them inflated and crashing into trees and traffic lights, so I’m grateful for my municipality’s modesty.

I’m grateful my state was prepared for this year’s big storm and even more grateful it passed us by.  Emergency workers from Vermont went to the flooded zones and helped out.  I’m grateful that four generations of my family who now live in Florida have still been spared violent storms of climate change and that three generations of Adrienne’s family who live in the greater NYC area all came through Sandy safely, with minimal damage.  (The roof was blown off my niece’s grammar school, an event she seemed grateful for at the time, but is now having second thoughts.)

My friend and colleague Connor, who is from northwest Vermont but now lives in DC is spending Thanksgiving in Rockaway, where Greenpeace has had its solar generator truck, Rolling Sunlight, since just after Sandy passed through, charging cell phones, heating meals and powering a medical clinic.  I’ve enjoyed watching Connor and other young folks from Greenpeace wading in to the tragedy and feeling the satisfaction that comes from giving and being needed.  Yep, we have a message to spread about the causes of Sandy and the storms to come and even though these kids are now perched in a fairly red corner of New York City, we know hunger and cold and the need for medical attention have no politics.

My family is doing our bit on the climate change and holiday traffic fronts by going across the street for dinner today, combining two households in a neighborhood celebration.  I’m sure most of us will go somewhere today by foot or bicycle.

Mulch mountain finally disappeared from our driveway a few weeks ago and as I walk through the neighborhood I can see bits and pieces of it in various gardens and under trees and I remember generosity is the greatest luxury.

The last storm windows were put up last weekend and the last leaves raked.  Now that outdoor season is truly over, I replaced the spillcock on the outdoor spigot, which had been dripping for months.  I think it was the original, from the house’s construction in 1936 repack the washer as I might, there was no stopping that drip any longer.

My right wrist, broken at the end of July has all but completely healed; I still feel twinges when I do certain strenuous things, but not bad for middle age.  My back sometimes aches, my joints are occasionally stiff and I really think I should go to the eye doctor and get a new prescription.  I do what I can to stay young while I seek grace to allow me to welcome another stage of life and explore its aspects.

I’ve been thinking about Abraham Lincoln (who never made it past middle age) lately, what with his new movie and all (not the one in which he kills vampires).  He did not initiate the Thanksgiving holiday, but did much to get everyone celebrating on the same day.  He did this in 1863, in a month when major fighting would end and the armies, north and south, would go into winter quarters.  That must have been a relief.  Mr. Lincoln had delivered the Gettysburg Address just one week before, so the price Americans were paying was clear to all and although the war had turned a corner that year, I doubt anyone could yet discern that.

It’s worth remembering the American sons and daughters in harm’s way for their country’s sake today, even if the cause for which they fight has none of the clarity of Mr. Lincoln’s war and even if their steadfastness is betrayed by generals cavorting with bimbos.

Let us be grateful for what we can because, for good or ill, it too shall pass.  Happy Thanksgiving.

© Mark Floegel, 2012

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