And All These…

In the afterglow of Thanksgiving gathering and feasting with family and friends, I am remembering the conversation and the things for which we said we were thankful.  Thanking the Giver of and in our gifts, we acknowledged the people in our lives among our most cherished blessings.  I smile as I read the light hearted verses here, savoring the last bits of dressing and pecan bars and fruit salad along with thoughts of all the ways my husband and children and grandchildren and friends enrich my life.

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people. 

For Children who are our second planting, 
and, though they grow like weeds 
and wind too soon blows them away, 
may they forgive us our cultivation 
and fondly remember where their roots are.

Let us give thanks; For generous friends with hearts. 
and smiles as bright as their blossoms; 
For feisty friends as tart as apples; 
For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, 
keep reminding us that we’ve had them; 
For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible; 
For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants 
and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others,
as plain as potatoes and as good for you; 
For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts 
and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, 
and serious friends, as complex as cauliflowers 
and as intricate as onions; 
For friends as unpretentious as cabbage, 
as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, 
as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who, 
like parsnips, can be counted on to see you throughout the winter; 
For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, 
and young friends coming on as fast as radishes; 
For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils 
and hold us, despite our blights, wilts, and witherings; 

And, finally, for those friends now gone, 
like gardens past that have been harvested, 
and who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter; 
For all these we give thanks. 

Max Coots

It’s a Wonderful Life

November 14, 2012, my 72nd birthday.

I have made it my custom for years now to give myself birthday gifts which no one else can give me.  I cherish the hugs and surprises from my husband and children, love every phone call and email, and smile all over with my granddaughters’  “Happy Birthday, Granmary!”  But no matter how else I spend my time having a happy day, I give myself music – this is the time when I begin playing my favorite Christmas albums, beginning with James Galway’s Christmas Carol and going on to thrill to an English Handbell Choir, Renaissance pieces by the Tallis Scholars, Handel’s Messiah, and John Denver’s Muppet Christmas, which was the one my little boys loved to listen to when they decorated the Christmas tree.  It still makes them laugh and we still play it when the tree is staggering to stand up and be dressed.  but I also play Paul Hillyer’s Home to Thanksgiving.  And in the last couple of years I have added a gift to myself.  I write a list to go along with Hillyer’s music.  This is a list of sacred ordinary things from throughout my year and is a way for me to move toward the celebration of Thanksgiving in our family, which also is the springboard for Advent.  Since I keep a gratitude journal where I record 5 things I am grateful for each morning, I simply make my birthday list from that journal, choosing 2 or 3 entries for each month in the past year.  Just remembering and writing these things is a reminder of hope and joy. What a gift!


In my 72nd year, these are things for which I give thanks:

greens from our garden on the table with peas and cornbread

time to curl up with a book

walking around the lake on a clear, cold day

pain management for Joe

silent room, dark except for Christmas tree lights

Christ, who came, is come, and will come

warming my aching fingers on my coffee cup

my son taking down the Christmas tree and making our dinner

safety during a storm

winter sunshine after the winds

puttering and pruning in the garden

rainbows on the floor from the prism in leaded glass at our front door

the buttery taste of winter squash

memories of babies and boys

my husband’s gentle spirit

morning quiet time

13 bean soup

settling, being settled

deep colors of roses blooming in January

mockingbird singing on top of our rose arbor

“hope is that thing with feathers that perches on the soul and sings….”

Sabbath heart

a perfectly timed call from a dear friend

hoping in, not for

the poetry of Luci Shaw

my nursing education and experience

books on hold at the library

planting Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato seeds

quiet – no rushing to fill with noise

still – no rushing to “do”


Autumn leaves go very near the top of my favorite things list.  I grew up a few hundred miles north of where I now live, just far enough away for seasonal change to be much more apparent.  I remember watching for the colors to appear when temperatures dropped.  After the first frost, scarlet Sumac, yellowing Sycamore and Sweet Gum were blazing drifts of foliage that popped out of the evergreen forests of Pine and Cedar along East Texas roadsides. A few years in Oklahoma are remembered as having beautiful fall colors.  Some time living in and near Dallas when our boys were little brought us plenty of pretty leaves and fallen ones to pile up and scuffle through.   My sweet niece sent me pictures of the brilliant confetti of New Jersey leaves just last week before Hurricane Sandy caused so much destruction in their area.  I am grateful she and her family are safe, but know that so many others are ravaged from the brutal storm.  Winds didn’t just blow away the beautiful leaves, whole trees were uprooted.

Swirling in the mix of my concern and prayers, I have thought how glad I am that Jen saw the beauty of those leaves and shared the images with me.  In reality, I have lived a good deal of my life where the autumn colors were little changed, or at most subtle – South Texas, Southern California, Indonesia.  For twenty years now, at home here on the South Texas Gulf Coast, I need to look more closely at the gifts of Autumn.  I love the yellow leaves that swirl from Chinaberry and Elms, the little vermillion flags waving from Hawthorne and Crepe Myrtle. But most of all, I treasure the leaves that fall from my Magnolia tree, bronzed and gilded on one side that is lacquered shiny, and soft sueded brown on the underside.  Magnolia leaves were my playthings when I was a child.  A bank of Magnolia leaves graced our wedding.  I stood in front of a Magnolia tree in Bogor on the island of Java.  As I walk in these days leading to my turning 72, the turning of these magnificent leaves is with me again.  I am thankful.