A brief one for Thanksgiving, because there are things to say.
I’m not going to get political, much, though this holiday is deeply conflicted. Unless you whitewash it the whole way, we’re celebrating some bad things and we don’t have any National Days of Mourning or Grieving or Repentance, because that isn’t our style. Today when we were talking to the borrachos who hang out outside our house, Kim asked them if they knew what Thanksgiving is. One of them said he thought so, but they all knew what Black Friday is. Sigh. On the other hand, I don’t think you can be too grateful, to God or to the people who love you and make your life worth being alive for.
Recently, I sat at a table and ate and drank and conversed in Spanish and laughed hard with friends, people I love in this strange (to me) land that’s been home for working on seven years now. One of the people is abused. None of us can fix it. Sometimes it goes better. Sometimes it gets a lot worse. We’re involved and invested and all those great words that really do mean compassion and time and money. But our lives are so utterly different. Yet we sit together and joke and laugh and care for each other. That’s what we can do.
Yesterday I got such awful news it literally knocked the breath from me, like a knee driven into my chest. It’s so bad and so private I can’t even hint at it, but it’s from someone I love, about someone I love, and all I could do was listen and feel my guts churn. I was the safe place for it, the person who could share a little of the overwhelming pain. That’s what we can do.
My son is not a great baseball player and may never be. But today when I said, “Hey, let’s go play baseball,” he said, “Oh, yes!” We played for about an hour and I can see how he is improving. I can tell him. I can do what my father did for me and love him with my time and sweat and sharing what I know about fielding grounders and going with the pitch. I’m never really sure how I’m doing as a dad, but this I can do.
My wife often feels like when we prepare for celebrations, she does most or all of the work. Today, the kiddos and I were able to help with some significant prep work while she was working on gifts for the moms of her preschoolers from the little preschool she and two neighbors run in our barrio. She still probably did the majority of the work, but we did a good job with our list and when she got back, it was all done and the kitchen was clean. I’m not the servant to my wife that I aspire to be, but today, we did okay.
Today, in addition to being grateful for the people in my life and how they love me, I’m grateful for how I get to love them. It’s imperfect and messy, always, but also life-giving and healing, both ways. I believe we are healed through loving others.
The Nicaraguan translation for Thanksgiving is “el Día de Accion de Gracias.” I really like this. Literally, “the day of the action of thanks.” That means both “the day of giving thanks” and “the day of thankful action.”
These are my thankful actions. In the end, this is what we can do.