I love holiday music. Without a doubt, if I’m in a December slump, I crank up some Andrea Bocelli or Josh Groban. Nothing gets me in the mood like a divine baritone singing Ave Maria or Silent Night. But you know something? There are not a lot of Thanksgiving tracks floating across the sound waves. Walmart doesn’t sell platinum albums about “National Turkey Day”, and Sinatra never thought to croon out a line or two about the stuffing, potatoes, and pie. Sure, Chubby Checker has a single called “Mashed Potato Love”, and Jim Jackson warbles about the “Voice of a Pork Chop”, but who sings about gathering around a table groaning with food and holding hands with Family? Instead, Jingle Bells, Oh Holy Night, and Santa Baby trample Thanksgiving in every major department store weeks before the final Thursday in November.
Thanksgiving is a beloved pregame feast, a practice run for the fourteen-bazillion tracks of Christmas.
Have we forgotten what it means to be thankful? I don’t think so. But I think good intentions get lost in the tinsel, evergreen, and candy canes. Or in the week-long cooking marathon, whipping up three varieties of potatoes and half a dozen homemade pies.
During the blessing, everyone and their growling stomachs will say thanks for the browned turkey whose aroma has been tantalizing them for the last four hours. And if you’re the cook, you might gasp out heartfelt thanks for God’s greatest creation — a chair.
But this year, I don’t want my thanks to be a one liner about the chocolate pecan pie. For a minute, I’m going to pretend I’m a songwriter. I escape one chilly night to my fireplace with pen and staff paper, and I begin to write.
I write about a bright January night around a gnarled oak table, my brothers boisterously belting out “Auld Lang Syne.” Clutching of my husband’s hands, singing along bravely, not knowing whether this will be our last New Year’s together. Thankful for every precious moment of togetherness.
I write about the bone-chilling February night, where wind and weariness cut me to the core. Standing on the frostbitten grass of Devil’s Field and watching a procession of white buses drive away. Wondering how to make the days of a deployment pass. Thankful that in loss, we learn how much we have to be grateful for.
I write about the May evening I walked across a stage and ended up on the other side with a diploma. My smiling face hid the hurt of the empty chair, the one my husband would have been sitting in if he weren’t thousands of miles away. In his place, Family and friends let out a cheer for me. Thankful for the Family whom no military spouse can do without.
Finally, I write about the August night my best friend walked up a red carpet at Green Ramp. About the sight of his sunburned face in the fluorescent light, his blue eyes shining with tears, AR still clutched in his hand. Thankful for homecoming, for a word that now meant infinitely more.
Ultimately, Thanksgiving can sum up every holiday. We always have the chance to look outside ourselves, to remember all we have to be thankful for. Instead of forgetting to look around us, every day gives us a chance for gratitude. Isn’t that something worth singing about?