‘[…] Maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.’
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything
Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash
The turkey has been cooked, overcooked, and is now being basted and reheated. It will be dry, but there will be gravy and potatoes to save the meal. Those have already been mashed and are now on the table, either smooth or lumpy, depending on whichever potato lobby clamored the loudest this year.
The green beans and brussels sprouts have already been relegated to the far corner, behind the mac and cheese, behind the bread rolls, barely visible, thus less insulting to the Thanksgiving feast. Even the cranberry sauce, that bizarre invention only Americans seem to appreciate, has a better seat, in the middle, right by the space reserved for the turkey.
In a few minutes the hungry and related will invade the dining room. The actual seats will be filled and pulled forward, glasses lifted for the toast. Thanks will be given, probably hastily, then food will be passed around. Conversation will be interspersed with:
I hope it’s not too dry?
Not at all! Pass the gravy please. Thank you.
Can you reach the potatoes? Thank you.
Thank you for preparing all of this!
All of this will be passed around one, then two more times, till pie, and then more pie. After that, mass lethargy on the sofa. Some game will probably be on.
But this is not a Thanksgiving story. This is a story about thanks, for those whose chairs here are empty tonight and whose winter coats are off their hooks.
This is for the doctors and nurses on shift in white-lighted, blue chaired hospital rooms. For those doing triage in the emergency department, those wheeling patients in. For the first responders and drivers on call in the ambulances outside. For the operator repeating into the headset: I understand. Help is on the way.
This is for the help that is on the way, and for the all the others on the road. The officers patrolling city streets, highways, the coast, the air, land borders. The gas station attendants and the cashiers at mini-marts ringing up 99 cent cups of coffee. A thought for the bus, train, plane, taxi drivers getting everyone but themselves home.
The voice from the cockpit: Fasten your seat belts please.
The voice from the control tower: Cleared to land.
The voice over the bed: It’s all right now. Go back to sleep. I am here.
This is for the firefighters and the bartenders, responding to different emergencies. For the drive through employee confirming the order of a burger with fries and cheese. For the waiters, the chefs, the retail workers selling discounted clothes at midnight. The security guards keeping watch in front of buildings and behind CCTV screens.
For those who have to work. For those who choose to work. For those not at the table eating turkey. Thank you for being on shift tonight, for all of us. Happy Thanksgiving.