Thanksgiving for Two
by Marjorie Saiser
The adults we call our children will not be arriving
with their children in tow for Thanksgiving.
We must make our feast ourselves,
slice our half-ham, indulge, fill our plates,
potatoes and green beans
carried to our table near the window.
We are the feast, plenty of years,
arguments. I’m thinking the whole bundle of it
rolls out like a white tablecloth. We wanted
to be good company for one another.
Little did we know that first picnic
how this would go. Your hair was thick,
mine long and easy; we climbed a bluff
to look over a storybook plain. We chose
our spot as high as we could, to see
the river and the checkerboard fields.
What we didn’t see was this day, in
our pajamas if we want to,
wrinkled hands strong, wine
in juice glasses, toasting
the decades of side-by-side,
our great good luck.
From I Have Nothing to Say About Fire.
The Backwaters Press, an imprint
of University of Nebraska Press, 2016.
It’s difficult to resist the social pressure that turns the holidays into an excuse for consumption and a cause of stress. Yet Marjorie Saiser brings love and acceptance to a situation that might anger or disappoint other parents: her children will not be coming home for Thanksgiving this year. Even in the first line, she acknowledges that they are adults with lives and children of their own, and we sense a hint of relief that she and her husband will get to “indulge” alone and reminisce about “that first picnic” that led them to this distant day together. Saiser reminds us that when we “make our feast ourselves,” when we transform the holidays back into holy days that focus on joy and deeper connection, we allow the abundance of our “good company,” no matter who or what that might be, “roll out like a white tablecloth” before us. So often, we’re caught in the rush and snare of obligation that we forget to pause and drink from the more nourishing waters of thanks for our lives as they are, in all their messiness. The author and counselor Sheryl Paul points out, “There are two rivers that pulse through the holiday season: a river of anxiety informed by the need to consume and socialize and stay loud and busy, and a river of love informed by the waters of giving and gratitude. ” Though it may not always seem the case during the holidays, we get to choose which stream we step into, by making the most of every given moment and letting the current of love carry us through.
Invitation: Try journaling or writing a poem about your own Thanksgiving and consider what “given moments” arose during the day that you’d like to hold onto. Focus on each instant of joy and glimpse of gratefulness for exactly where you were and who you were with, allowing yourself to be as specific as possible as you describe those sensations and what occasioned them on that holy day of thanks.