Thursday, November 23, 2006


Today is Thanksgiving Day - at least, for people living in the United States of America. Our brethren north of the border celebrate in October, and who can blame them? If they waited until November, pretty much everything would be frozen solid.

The Missus is preparing a full-blown Food Extravaganza for the Mistress of Sarcasm and her friends. There will be assorted olives and pickled garlic cloves. There will be Sweet and Sour Meatballs. There will be Crab and Artichoke Dip. There will be Maple-Roast Turkey with Foccaccia Stuffing. There will be Sausage-Brown Rice Stuffing with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins. There will be Carrot Soufflé, Sweet Potato Pudding, and Spinach-Jalapeño Cheese Casserole. There will be cranberry sauce, both jellied and whole-berry. There will be giblet gravy and Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onion Topping, these last two my sole contributions to the menu, and both (like everything else) made from scratch with fresh ingredients. None of that Cream of Mushroom Soup crap here, brothah.

Did someone mention dessert? There will be two hideously delicious pies from Greenwood’s on Green Street: one blackberry, one Holy Shit Chocolate By Gawd! And a pile of Mexican Chocolate Cookies I cooked up Tuesday night. Coffee and a nice Cossart Gordon Rainwater Madeira complete the picture.

OK, so we will eat well, and that is certainly something to be thankful for.

Gratitude is an emotion that ill befits the average human being. For all that we have - a constant, if not excessive, supply of provender; comfortable shelter and warm, even fashionable, clothing; the good fortune of living in a country that enshrines the right to the pursuit of happiness in its Constitution; inexpensive and safe transport; 21st-century medical care, including that great gift Anesthesia - we should be thankful every day, not just on one convenient, all-purpose occasion.

And in fact, many of us are.

There is a prayer recited by observant Jews three times a day - four times on Sabbaths, holidays, and New Moons. It is the Amidah - literally, the Standing Prayer. It is also popularly called the Shemoneh-Esrei - the Eighteen - because the weekday version originally comprised eighteen separate benedictions. [Today, it’s nineteen, but who’s counting?]

One of those benedictions, Modim, is a prayer of thanksgiving...and one of the little things that I find most striking about Modim is that it includes thanks for everyday miracles.

Think about the myriads upon myriads of little things that we take for granted. Our ability to reproduce. The millions of chemical processes that enable us to live, to think, to ask questions, to wonder who and what we really are. The fact that we live in a world where life, as we know it, is even possible. All those wondrous little things that we take for granted...because to walk around with a degree of gratitude commensurate with the miracle of our daily existence would render us completely paralyzed, immobile.

Reflect upon those daily miracles today...and, possibly, for a minute or so every day. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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