As a child I really hated Thanksgiving. A product of two crunchy liberals who came of age during the 70’s, I adopted a vegetarian diet from a young age, and, while I was well versed in environmental and social responsibility, matters of societal and cultural values tended to be overlooked. Consequently, the primary staples of the Thanksgiving holiday had little appeal to me; I was as interested in feasting upon turkey meat as I was in the practice of watching my heaping plate of side dishes grow cold as I entertained the long-winded proclamations of thanks offered forth by each of my adult relatives. I could not comprehend the practice, which required me to squeeze around a chronically overcrowded table to suffer a seemingly endless bestowing of grace before being permitted to indulge in a dinner that on all other occasions was provided to me in the absence of such conditions.
I see your heads shaking with disgrace, your fingers wagging shame. But really, knowing the surrender that is demanded of us over the course of a lifetime, is there any other way than to begin from a stance of absolute egotistical self-interest? (Borrowing this philosophical bend from author, Stephen King, I must admit credit where it is due.) While your heads may shake and your fingers may wag, as I look back upon this unabashedly narcissistic child version of myself, I feel more jealous yearning than shame.
Since that time, Thanksgiving has moved up on my list of preferred holidays with each of my accumulated journeys around the sun. It demands less of me than any other day of celebration. (The self-interested child lives on!) And, as my values shift with the spinning rotation of time, they have become increasingly aligned with this day of thanks.
Jim and I have a lot to be thankful for this year. We are grateful for deepening connections with friends, family, and our pups, for health enough to continue our mountain adventures, and (on many more days than not) for each other. But this year, above and beyond all else, we are thankful for WATER! The gift of indoor plumbing was bestowed upon us in completion this week by the hands of a patient and diligent plumber (who has been shockingly tolerant of our unique cabin-specific plumbing requests). We are equally grateful for the removal of the portable toilet, which has marked the entry to our driveway for the past 16 months! How will we now direct visitors to our home in the absence of this beacon???
While water represents the most recent gift bestowed upon us and our little cabin, it stands on the shoulders of giants. Carpenters, electricians, earthwork magicians, friends, family, and all others who have contributed to the transformation of our lives over the past year, you hold a special place in our hearts this season.
After arriving at Jim’s parents’ home late last night where we will celebrate this turkey day, Jim Sr. and Sue laughed along with Jim Jr. and I as we reminisced upon my reaction to entering their home of lights and indoor plumbing last year at this time. I’d been overjoyed by the switching on of a light. Shocked by the vast expanse of their standard size refrigerator. And nearly brought to my knees by the prospect of indoor plumbing and a warm shower.
When we return home at the end of the weekend, we will enter into a home ablaze with electric light and heat, where water (and hot water at that) is called forth in endless supply with the turning of a faucet. Our gratitude pulses through our little cabin like electric current. Awe pours in waves through the pipes that weave through our walls.
This past week, on the day the plumbing was completed, a rainbow emerged from the darkness of a storm to arc across our muddy yard. A bridging of water outdoors to in. I am appreciative of the small, persistent child inside me who innocently and egocentrically believes that this spectrum of light was born from the universe for her, as she marks the simple yet profound emergence of water in her home. And I am grateful for the bow that connects this child believer to the adult who, with muddy boots, gazes out upon the water and the light from a little cabin nestled in the woods.