News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Of a certain age... Remembering to be thankful

The two elements that provide a healing atmosphere for me are beautiful music and being in nature. Last Friday was one of those days when I needed a little of both.

My attitude all day was negative, my mood foul, my outlook depressing, and my energy depleted. But I had promised a friend I would go with her to listen to Bill Keale play and sing at Sisters Depot that evening. Bill’s beautiful voice, his exquisite guitar skills, and his soul-filling songs were just the cleansing I needed to wash away the darkness that had shrouded my day.

Saturday morning, I woke to a 20-degree day with a winter blue sky and slanted rays of sunshine peeking through the trees. Fully bundled against the cold, my dog and I headed to the forest trail for our first walk of the day.

What greeted us was a magical fairyland painted with frozen dew, creating sparkling prisms where the sun’s rays struck the ice crystals on the leafless shrubs, the bunch grass, even the pine needles on the forest floor. The scene before us stopped me in my tracks as I absorbed the beauty as only nature can paint it.

As we headed down the trail, I spotted several tents through the trees, providing frigid shelter for some of our houseless neighbors. I thought about the cozy bed I had gotten out of that morning before bundling up in my down jacket, fleece-lined boots, and knit hat and gloves to ward off the cold. We had driven to the trail in a warm car with heated seats to which we would return at the conclusion of our walk.

The music the night before had dispelled my self-centered funk and prepared me to be available to see nature’s crystalline beauty that morning. My eyes and heart were also opened to recognize the ordinary blessings that fill my life each and every day. In nature, I am free from the disheartening news being shouted 24/7, highlighting prejudice, misinformation, divisiveness, inequality pain, injustice, hate, and all the other ills that seem to engulf our world. Too much of that cacophony drowns out any goodness.

Over the last several weeks, I have been dreading the emptiness of the approaching holidays. My older son is working on Thanksgiving, so he and his wife are unavailable. My younger son is currently out of touch, living on the street in Seattle in a heroin-induced haze, which is a permanent source of heartache.

There is a part of me that is glad I don’t have to make all the preparations for a big family dinner. I had my years of Thanksgiving for 32 adults and children. In fact, my Thanksgivings have ranged from sharing dinner in my home with a few close friends or family, to dining in a restaurant and foregoing all the preparations, to helping prepare and serve dinner to community members at the fire house, to being invited to others’ homes, to being home alone and treating the holiday just like any other Thursday.

I have learned that to adapt and accept what is, to limit my expectations, and to be thankful in the moment is the best way for me to approach Thanksgiving and Christmas. It isn’t necessary to try to emulate a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover of the “perfect family holiday.”

Plan or not, gather or not, cook or not; the only thing that really matters to me is that I remember to be thankful for my everyday blessings.


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