Thanksgiving grace holds the foremost purpose of Thanksgiving in our family. This year, our family will be giving grace via Zoom with 26 people in attendance. Grace is a word that carries a complex spirit. It is both a noun and an adverb. You can give and receive grace. It expresses ease of movement draped in beauty and rhythm. You know when you see a dancer or skier with grace — it’s a state of being, seemingly effortless. It requires patience, acceptance, temperament and practice and for those of faith, it is with God’s grace that we endure and carry out our intended purpose. It is not easily found without intention. It must be sought and received, practiced and refined.
I like to think this early snow was sent with grace to brighten the darkest time of the year, in a year that needs a few more sunrises. November is a month of solemn darkness and subtle beauty that requires diligent observation to uncover. It’s a constant push and pull. The push to maximize the daylight hours and a pull to avoid the cold, to put off whatever outside chores remain. The pull to huddle in by the fire, and the push to prepare for upcoming holidays.
November’s beauty lies in the moment the fog lifts to expose the veil that separates us from light and dark. It’s in the earliest silence of the morning and the sting that nips your nose. It’s in the downy woodpecker foraging leftover berries, and in the frost-covered leaves that crackle underfoot. It’s in the black-tipped tinge of the mule deer’s winter coat. It’s the whistle of the teapot and the flicker of the fire.
Despite the small wonders that enlighten each day, the harsh beauty in November comes with trepidation to even winter’s most proclaimed lovers and it requires grace. It’s a dark month any way you spin it. And this year, as the coronavirus rampages across the nation we are girdled with another lockdown to stay safe. For those of us seeped in family life, we are grateful to not endure alone.
For countless other neighbors and friends who live alone, winter is already a time of isolation, and this year it came early, wrapped in another mandate to be ever more isolated. For elders who aren’t as active anymore, just walking outside can become a precarious endeavor. With the closure of the senior center and other gathering places, we are thankful for Methow At Home offering a sense of connection and community to our aging family and friends.
For teens whose strides toward self-discovery and independence rely on time with friends away from parental ties, the options for social growth are few. Lockdown makes parents and teens anxious. Therefore, we are thankful that the school remains open where classmates can congregate on a semi-regular basis.
For new parents with babies and young children, not being able to visit with family for the holidays comes with a deep sadness. For those who have distant family and rely on “friends-giving” for cheer and memory-making, Thanksgiving feels a bit lackluster, so we focus on the next holiday. To do so, we are thankful for the hard-working small businesses trying to weather this storm and we buy local.
The attitude of gratitude takes practice. This year it takes more focus, flexibility, and special training than our generation has ever needed. New exercises in faith, love and appreciation of things big and small. It takes observation and humility. Above all, it requires grace.