It’s a festive day.  I woke up to a house that still smelled like turkey from yesterday’s roasting of the Preschool feast, and better yet, I could bask in the assurance that said turkey was actually DONE, turned out well, and was carved and ready to go for the kids’ party.  (Yes, I pulled it off.  My first turkey, conquered.)  We had a little extra time this morning — time spent both relaxing with a cup of coffee, and puttering around a bit, doing some (very) light cleaning in preparation for a visit from a friend who’ll be sharing the holiday with us and J.’s family tomorrow.  After easing into the day, we meandered on over to the preschool, where we were treated to a performance by L. and his classmates of several Thanksgiving songs.  My personal favorite was “Hello Mr. Turkey.”  L. stole the show completely — he’s a huge ham — and we treated him with all the enthusiasm due a budding rock star, then left for work at a relaxingly late hour, as our little performer ran off in his construction-paper turkey headdress to do storytime with his friends.  Upstairs, P. was in his classroom dancing enthusiastically to “Five Little Monkeys.”  I arrived at work with my cuteness cup brimming.

Despite the chaos of a shortened work week, with deadlines looming and people heading off to their Thanksgiving destinations, everyone seems to have found time, today, to pause and celebrate.  Managers (including mine) took their employees out for lunch.  People are sharing videos and photos of their kids’ school events.  Thanksgiving Eve, this year, feels more jovial, more celebratory than it has in a long time, at least to me.  I’ve been puzzling about that.  Why is it that I’ve never before noticed this festive atmosphere on the day before Turkey Day?

Because I’ve spent the past couple of Thanksgiving Eves around people who didn’t have homes, families, and food secured for the big day, that’s why.

Oh, I’m not going to get preachy.  I’ll just say this: Last year at this time, I was one of the many people working on various aspects of a plan to get a young mother and her little boy into a safe place for Thanksgiving, someplace where the person who’d beaten them couldn’t find them, someplace where the heat and water wouldn’t be shut off for the holiday.  Maybe we’d get them a turkey, too.  And cranberry sauce, for the little boy — it was all he wanted for his Thanksgiving dinner.

Last year at this time, I was lining up laundry baskets full of donated canned goods and helping to coordinate who would get one — and who hadn’t made the list.

Festivities.  They’re a luxury too many of us forget about, in the relatively secure worlds we inhabit.  I myself have spent far too much of today joking with coworkers about the hidden horrors we all face with blended families, outdated traditions, and the general stress of getting everyone together for the holiday, so in atonement, I’m thinking now about what I’m thankful for.  Really and truly.  Because there’s so much.

1) I’m thankful for this atmosphere of celebration.  How lucky are we to be privileged enough to take long lunches today; to come late to work because of a child’s preschool play; to have the luxury of complaining, even in jest, about the food and the people that will make up our Thanksgivings?
2) I’m thankful for the work and the deadlines and the craziness today.  When I have work to do, I’m an asset to the company; when I’m an asset to the company, I continue to be employed.
3) I’m thankful for the coworker who has challenged me on some topics of food and health today; our debate made me think, made me question, and even made me laugh.
4) I’m thankful for the countless and sometimes overwhelming requests from different charities to give, give, give in this season.  It’s easier to be annoyed or frustrated that you can’t give to all; but I’m choosing to be thankful that there are so many people working for good, and so many reminders to the rest of us that we have an awful lot.
5) I’m thankful for all the plans we have this weekend, even if I’m not looking forward to them all; having plans means that we have people in our lives who want us around them, and that we have somewhere to go.

I could go on and on this way.  I mean, I haven’t even touched on the biggies yet — the predictable ones.  The husband.  The kids.  The house.  The draft that comes in from the back door — I like it because it’s not a gale force wind.  We have doors and walls to protect us.  The food — of course, the food — we’ll never go hungry, and we’ve got enough to give away to others.

But I’ve got places to go today, and things to do, and a holiday to celebrate tomorrow.  And so have you all.  So I say, in all sincerity, Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you.  I’m thankful for this blog and its readers, too, and I wish everyone the best of holidays.  I leave you for the weekend with a quote from L., when asked what he was thankful for this year:

“Oh, well.  Just thankful for everything.”

Yup.  Me too.