Thanksgiving Eve

Wednesdays are my favorite days, and this is my favorite Wednesday of the year.

I absolutely love the anticipation that this day means. Since early this morning I’ve been chopping herbs and pecans, grating orange rind (that lovely little burst of spray that escapes every time the zester perforates the orange is like a tiny sacrament of the season to me), measuring out brown sugar and vanilla and poring over endearingly splattered recipes. I’ve tended the fire on the kitchen hearth and I’ve leaned over a stock pot simmering with the well-beloved cranberry conserve I’ve made every year since I was seventeen. Snow flurries (Snow! In November!) whirl in keen gusts outside the window, making that fire all the more friendly, and, like an epiphany, sudden sunlight ebbs and flows over my world in a wave of pale gold at a break in the clouds. I hear the wild and far off exultation of the sandhill cranes voyaging south, but this day I’ve no inclination to dream of the sunny lands they sing of. Sweeter to my soul is the bleating of my own sheep in the barnyard and the light snoring of this cat who takes my fireside chair every time I pop up to stir a pot or respond to a timer. My heart is homing with such a quiet joy today, a gathering-up of myself and all I believe about beauty and truth and goodness: namely, that all of this work and preparation and expectation is a banner of hope and a statement of faith. As I said elsewhere, things matter, everything matters, because Love has come and Redemption tarries not.


It will be a different Thanksgiving this year. We will gather with our family to celebrate on Sunday, and tomorrow we’ll enjoy a quiet day at home, just us. I am preparing a formal dinner for Philip and it has been the delight of my heart to dream over it and shop for it and make what preparations I can in advance. I keep teasing him that it’s my version of Babette’s Feast (one of the best, most sacrificially beautiful films I have ever seen), but I have had fun. Don’t tell Philip, but I’m making, among other things, an honest-to-goodness Beef Wellington, a butternut squash “crumble” that has been driving me mad with gorgeous aromas, and for dessert, a lovely (and heretofore untested) sabayon made with roasted chestnuts and Muscat.

I’m embracing “different” this year. My heart has heard God’s whisper to open my hands and to accept my limitations, which are two sides of the same coin, and I am earnestly endeavoring to heed that pluck at my sleeve. For the truth is, while I would not change places with anyone on the face of this earth, there are a few things in my life I would change right now, if I could. God, in such greater tenderness and wisdom, sees otherwise, and I bow before that unfathomable Love. But the heart that is alive bears its wounds, as I am sure every single one of you could attest in personal and poignant ways. And if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that sorrow and joy don’t usually visit us separately, but hand in hand. “I’ll take the heights and the depths,” I told a dear friend and mentor on the phone this morning, “because that is where the joy is.” I don’t have to understand how the mystical transaction takes place–I can only swear that it does.

And when Sorrow has stayed its piece, Joy remains. That, in my opinion, is something to celebrate.

I want you to know that as I sit by my fire on this Thanksgiving Eve and cusp of the Bright Season, I’m raising a teacup to all of you kind souls out there who connect with my words and give them a place in your hearts. I am truly and deeply grateful for you.

May the blessing of light be on you—
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.

Celtic Blessing

21 Responses to “Thanksgiving Eve”

  1. Dahna Cook says:

    Lovely~

  2. Judy says:

    The mystery of sorrow and the way it intersects with joy…

    Seventeen years ago, my father’s death coincided closely with my daughter’s birth. That was the year I truly learned that the “There is a time for… Ecclesiastes passage was not about neatly separate packages of time, but about choosing to give each experience its due. To be lost in one or the other is to miss beauty and the place of deepest joy – the place where we know we are held by Christ.

    Taking this moment to pray that the mysterious reality of joy will undergird your sorrows.

    How wise of you to know that a Thankgiving Feast is the thing to give your love and attention to this week.

    Blessed Thanksgiving.

  3. Maryann says:

    I am grateful for you and your writing too.

  4. Maryann says:

    “The heart that is alive bears its wounds.” Love this. Such a beautiful way to put it.

  5. Lovely! Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of my favorite days of the year and since I’ve gotten older, Thanksgiving even more so. A couple years ago it was just my husband and me at home and I still made a complete Thanksgiving dinner. It would not be the same without the Feast.

    They are always bittersweet as my daughter and her family cannot be here. The logistics are too difficult for them to drive from New England this time of year. But as I have told her many times, often good enough is… good enough. :)

    I need to get back to the kitchen but I saw this post of yours and had to read it. For the second year, we will host our son and daughter-in-law as well as her parents and sisters. A lovely time! A happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you.

  6. Sarah Durham says:

    A needed word! Thank you. A blessed Thanksgiving to you, dear friend! “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;his love endures forever.”~Psalm118

  7. Josh says:

    I’ve long been thankful for you and your writing, Lanier, and your ability to see and help others to see the radiant beauty in both the small and large things of life. Now I add to that a bit of thankfulness for your book shop, which has added immeasurably to my book shelves! :)

    May the Lord bless and keep you. Happy Thanksgiving.

  8. Wendy says:

    oh yes dear one … change…never my favorite…said like a true Pat) but He always sends joy when least expected – I love you. xxx

  9. Bonnie Buckingham says:

    I got my pen&journal out to copy & write
    More on the beauty,goodness&truth of your
    words as we left Paris this morning & are now
    back in London . Merci beaucoup for providing
    A rich taste of thankfulness to my heart .
    I thought also about Rumer Godden’s book
    ( brain is not pulling up the name : House
    Of Bredes?) where a nun says she tucks prayers
    up her sleeve !

  10. Nancy says:

    Oh, how this touches me! We, too, are having a “different” Thanksgiving this year. Grieving my dear, dear father who passed away unexpectedly a month ago and still smiling over our daughter’s wedding this past weekend. As you so beautifully wrote, sorrow and joy . . .

    A Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Lanier. You are a blessing to many . . .

  11. This is lovely, and speaks to me right here in my life. The things that I would change: yes. The joy mingled with the sadness, lingering on and undergirding my dance, that too.
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful words.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Everly says:

    love this. So sweet. I’ve been learning, this year, to also be “open-handed” with my holidays. So far that has come in the form of having a young Egyptian Muslim man at our Thanksgiving dinner. Wouldn’t have picked it, wouldn’t trade it for the world. We had one of the most enlightening conversations of my life over pie and coffee by the fire.

    I am saying a prayer for you tonight in Texas, thanking God for you and asking that your needs be met in whatever area you may be struggling.

    Warm tidings,
    Ev

  13. Martina says:

    How wonderful you have some snow! I can imagine your joy. Here in Germany, we have quite a lot right now and I am in the perfect mood for decorating and baking gingerbread hearts. But often over the last years, we had a green, mild christmas… so we have to enjoy the white meadows and trees now as long as they are like that.
    Often, I cannot understand our ability to feel real happiness so close to grief. They really go hand in hand. Maybe we couldn’t experience one without the other? The older I get, the more mysterious those experiences become, and I think the only thing to do is to accept whatever comes. To keep in mind the blissful hours to help us survive the darker ones. And be grateful for them, anyway.
    And I am so grateful you are writing again! Thank you!

  14. Diane Robertson says:

    Lanier: Your thoughts always draw me in gratitude and thankfulness closer to the Lord. I am blessed to know you in a small way through your spirit which is revealed so lovingly in your words……….it is a spirit richly holding the Spirit within it.

    Blessings to you and your dear ones as we celebrate with hope and anticipation the coming of Jesus in Advent and then Christmastide. Joy has come into the our
    world, and we are never the same!

  15. April Pickle says:

    This is wonderful through and through. I read it Thursday morning from my bed as I pondered this Thanksgiving (the joy, the sadness, the glory of it all) and it’s beauty caused tears to roll down my cheeks. I hope to read it again and again. Thank you, dear Lanier. I’ve been slowly getting acquainted with your website and I love it. I didn’t think websites could be considered objects of beauty until I opened yours. Happy Advent Eve to you and Philip as the sun sets here in Texas. The coming of the Savior is upon us.

  16. Heather says:

    Your menu sounds delicious and so filled with care and thoughtfulness, (even if I don’t know what you made for dessert and will have to look up those foods). Thank you for sharing of your joys and your trials. We all have them, but knowing we all have them together makes the burden much lighter somehow and the delights truer
    Much love to you this first Day of Advent.

  17. Pam says:

    I’ve so enjoyed your writing over this past year, Lanier and will read this entry more than once.

    I appreciate all of the comments here too.

    I heard this morning on the news that scientists are looking into how they might discover how to erase unpleasant memories from one’s mind. I thought immediately of how important those memories are and wondered to myself how I’d be different without them…I’d choose to remember all of them. I think many of mine, sad times especially, have been an opportunity for me to die to myself and think instead of the welfare of others. However, I realize also that many people have experienced atrocities that I never have and it might be easy for me to say I wouldn’t change a thing. That’s where we’re needed to be Christ’s body and to help others with healing.

    I thank God for my life experience – past and present – and ask that I might be a source of consolation for those who are in need.

    Thank you once again for your lovely writing.

  18. Sharon says:

    I think that during most any season of our lives there are the frustrations of our own limitations–of both physical and spiritual nature, the sorrow of hopes deferred–in the sense of relationships damaged or conflicts unresolved. Learning acceptance through His grace is one of the most difficult on-going lessons of life. Opening oneself to the joy of beauty–in the flight of a bird, the slant of the light coming through a window, music, words–it all helps to heal and gives us courage to welcome each day.

  19. Josie Ray says:

    Thank you for opening this window into your day. He is the daylight streaming through; you are the candle on the sill. Blessings of Thanksgiving on this Twelfth Day of Christmas.

  20. Josie Ray says:

    p.s. But who is that snoring feline in your chair? :-)

  21. catherine illian says:

    Lanier
    This is simply beautiful!
    Thank you for the offering of your words. I have read and re-read them often this Advent season. God truly does make our desert into a place of bounty, albeit different fruit than we at first dreamed. Thank you for chronicling the ways you’ve received God’s gift.

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