Over the River and Through the Woods

To Grandmother’s House we go.  Literally. We slipped out of our dark, quiet home before dawn broke and have watched the sun come up driving out of the city to the countryside.  The roads are in a good shape, in spite of the snow a couple of days ago.  What is miraculous is the snow is still stuck to the branches of the trees.  The Earth appears dusted with a layer of powdered sugar like a funnel cake at the fair.  Just enough, but not too much.

Good roads for a long drive.  Sparkling snow stuck to trees reflecting the sun at our backs.  It seems so small in the context of all of the things that I’m thankful for, but as the car crests a hill and the view spreads as far as the eye can see, it is magnificent.

Thanksgiving brings a reminder to find gratitude.  We sit around tables or living rooms with friends or family hopefully with something delicious to eat.  Hard not to be thankful for that.  It isn’t so easy to be grateful everyday.

The mundane of life is filled with snowflakes stuck to tree branches.  It is just harder to see when we are in the valleys of life without the broad expanse to fill out the mosaic of wonder surrounding us.  Sometimes the beauty of our lives is overcome with a blight taking up a significant part of the view.  (If you were in the car with us, you’d know it is the rash of billboards for adult “superstores.”)

This week has been a mix of blights and beauty.  My friend lost her fight to cancer… too young to be taken from the world.  Another friend found a lump and is in limbo waiting for tests.  There is distress in our country.  In the midst of all of this there have been e-mails reminding me that I’m not alone — in fact surrounded by love and support.  Texts of holiday cheer.

Tuesday night we had an impromptu Friendsgiving.  Chairs got pulled up to the kitchen table to make room for everybody.  There was very little that resembled a Thanksgiving feast, except for warm, open hearts that filled our home.  As dishes of food got passed, I followed the Brussel sprouts lifting up a prayer of thanksgiving that each person was alive and miraculously in my life.  This simple gathering was a balm for my cracked soul.

At dinner, I asked the kids what they were thankful for.  Little pronounced her best friend, “Nolan,” while Bigs thought more about his answer.  “I’m thankful for everything.”  I’m not certain he is a philosopher, but I think he might be on to something.  There is gratitude to be found in everything.  Sometimes it isn’t clear in the midst of struggle and pain what good will come from it.  Yet, we can still find the perfectly formed, uniquely individual snowflake stuck to the billboard for the porn shop… almost insignificant in contrast, but beautiful nonetheless.

We still have four hours to go in our drive to Grandma’s house.  One movie has been watched, tears have been shed, fruit snacks were consumed for breakfast, and “Are we there yet?” has been uttered no fewer than a hundred times.  Today I’m choosing to see the clear road ahead and the mystery of snow flakes.


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