Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. As a child, I spent Thanksgivings with my Dad. We would drive over to Lewiston, Idaho, where his family largely was and there would commence a feast of mighty proportions. I think there were usually around 50 or more people in attendance and we gathered at my Aunt Luana's house just across the pasture from Grandpa and Grandma's house.
One of my earliest roadtrip memories is sitting in the back of the car with my older brother and my brand new baby sister. My grandpa and parents were in the car, too, and I kept asking him if we were there yet. He told me I'd know because we'd go up a big hill. Of course, at four years old, all hills were big hills.
Later in life, I'd ride over with a stack of books beside me, reading three or four novels on the way there and back. I remember reading Salem's Lot during one trip. As we got older, and after Grandpa and Grandma passed, we started holding Thanksgiving at Dad's house.
This will be my second Thanksgiving without Dad. It isn't the same but the holiday is saturated with his presence in the foods that my family makes and the memories we have of our time with him. My last Thanksgiving with Dad was profoundly different than any of the others because I knew it would be my last with him. I thnk he knew too because he said something to me about it in a moment of candor that he quickly brushed aside. He was a difficult father at times but over the years, we grew our own bond and it worked for us, I think. I miss him profoundly today above all other days.
And I'm profoundly grateful for him and for the gift of this holiday that he introduced me to. I'm grateful for a lot this year. My amazing wife and daughters. My friends and family. My colleagues in the writing world -- people like my agent and my editor and my posse of writing friends. The readers out there who drop me notes, letting me know they're enjoying my books. The life that I get to live...even though there are some bits of it that are quite difficult these days. I agree with Cicero -- I think gratitude truly IS the greatest of all virtues.
Today, we're having a quiet Thanksgiving at home. We were supposed to go north and weather and health stuff got in the way so yesterday we hastily threw together Plan B and Jen's already created most of the feast. Her sister will be coming over and later this evening, our dear friend Lilz will get in to hang with us for the weekend. This is the first year that my daughters -- Lizzy and Rae -- will participate in the feast. They'll eat foods my family has been eating since before I was born, including my grandmother's "out of this world" rolls. They'll place their feet in the river of family tradition and wriggle their toes for the first time. And get pie in their hair and ears and nostrils.
I hope that wherever you are, whatever you're doing today, you'll pause and think of a few things you're grateful for. Or maybe call up someone and thank them for something they've done or meant to you.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone. Trailer Boy out.