Speak Eagle

Broken Thanks

My table is perfect. The tablecloth with the turkeys on the edges. Candles.  Our finest dishes.  And then-  I carefully place my favorite little plaster “Give Thanks” pumpkin with the painted green ivy leaves in the center of the table.

Five minutes till our guests arrive- and counting.

My dad stands at the counter slicing the turkey.  He’s spent the day cooking it to perfection.  I whisk the gravy on the stove- made by my dad just the way my mom would have made it.

I peek in the oven at the rolls- browned and lovely, the sweet potato casserole- its marshmallows swelling with pride, the green beans- steamed bright.  My mom would have been proud.  I grin.  What beauty.  What bliss.  And then…


A 9-year old redhead rounds the corner, half-a-dozen pieces of my favorite plaster pumpkin in hand.   “I’m sorry, Mommy.  I was just looking at it.”

“And now you can just glue it!” I grouch at him and toss the super glue on the counter.  Within seconds he has super glued his own fingers to the pieces.

Three minutes and counting till our guests arrive.

I slowly attempt to pry his fingers from the pieces.  He winces. “Don’t worry, the glue’ll come off in a few weeks,” I grouch some more.

He runs his hands under warm water.  My hands, frustrated and shaking, try to glue the pieces hurriedly. One piece is still missing.  I stomp out to my beautiful table and set the broken “Give Thanks” pumpkin down anyway.

A knock on the door and they’re here.  Smiling faces, coats in the closet, samosas and pumpkin pie to share.

Before we sit down, my redhead looks disappointedly at the seating arrangement.  “But I wanted to sit by you, Mom.”

I’m a bit annoyed.  After all, he’s the one who broke my favorite pumpkin.  But I shift breakable dishes and make him a spot next to me.

We sing a prayer of thanks, share Lincoln’s proclamation and Psalm 100, stuff ourselves silly.

And then it’s time to pass around the tiny bowl of popcorn kernels.  We each take a few, pass the bowl on.  As another bowl is passed, we name our blessings and drop each kernel in.

God, family, friends, pumpkin pie, I-pads.  So much to be thankful for.  We each could take two handfuls of kernels and that still wouldn’t cover our blessings.

The bowl comes to my dad.  Two years ago my mom sat with him at this same table, her last thanksgiving with us before breast cancer took her life in March 2012.

He is teary.  “I’m thankful God gave me 45 years with my sweetheart, and thankful I’m here with you all today.”

For memories, for life, for the breath to be present- he is thankful.

My redhead wraps his arms around me, squeezes me tight with his typical “I’ve got a burst of energy!”

I squeeze him back hard.  If I have to choose between perfect or present, I will choose present every time.

He’s here.  I’m here.  We are together.  And like my favorite broken pumpkin will now always remind me, that’s one of the best reasons to give thanks.


6 thoughts on “Broken Thanks”

  1. So well written! Thank you for sharing your talents and writing about all of the real life things that happen. I love reading your blog!!

  2. Beautiful, Heidi. Just beautiful. Also, I love the pic of Jonathan and the broken pumpkin. Thank you for all your work in giving us a beautiful table, wonderful food and sweet thanksgiving together. You kept Jonathan’s spirit intact and that was the most important thing.

    1. Thank you, Dad. I remember accidentally breaking things as a kid, and mom would say, “It’s okay. It’s just stuff!” And now I get to practice having the same grace for my boys! Yes, it was a wonderful thanksgiving. And I thought your turkey and gravy turned out fabulous!

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