Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Conflict, ice cream & snow for breakfast

Our Little House in the Big Woods

Our Little House in the Big Woods

Picture this.  The day before Thanksgiving.  Waking up to about eight inches of beautiful fresh white snow outside our Little House in the Big Woods.  The wood stove humming and throbbing to heat our home, relishing its breakfast of hardwood logs.

Still, we shiver.  The back-up gas heater kicked in during the night.  It’s frigid for November.  I toss more logs into the ever-hungry stove. The logs clink hard against each other, promising more heat.

Barry still slumbers so I sip tea and ponder conflict.  Oh, how I loved writing and pondering yesterday’s blog!  Oh, how it resonated and thrilled and danced in my psyche all day long yesterday while the wind blew sideways and we purchased our first organic buying club order here in L’Anse, and we traveled up to Houghton on icy roads for Barry to cover a hockey game for his job at our local weekly newspaper.

One might imagine a morning breakfast of hot steaming grains, perhaps oatmeal or wheat berries or quinoa, to jump-start such a freezing morning.  Instead I whirred together buckwheat groats and cashews in the food processor.  Added chunks of frozen bananas and, OK, maybe some vanilla yogurt just because it smiled so dreamily from its perch in the refrigerator. Healthy ice cream for breakfast!

The pulsing clamor of the food processor woke my husband.

“I thought you were grinding rocks again,” he muttered as he settled on the couch, still sleepy-eyed.

“I don’t think people understand me,” I said.

He rolled his eyes silently.  It was obviously going to be one of those mornings in the Little House in the Big Woods.

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The titillation of conflict

Black and white

Black and white

I am still amazed at our human propensity to be titillated about conflict.

Something in the human mind loves drama.

We so often rush to read about negativity, challenges, despair, suffering.

We’re often intrigued to learn more about the day’s sorrows than the day’s blessings.

In this Thanksgiving season, perhaps we might ponder this.

Why does part of us seem eager to read about, say, rapes and killings, slaps and death, arguments and fiscal crisis?  Our minds seem less interested in blessings and gratitude, joys and Thanksgiving.

We might disagree.  We might insist we want those blessings, that we appreciate our many gifts.  Yet how often do we humans often scurry to get down in the dirt of gossip, pain and anguish?

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Fare thee well, fallow fields and yet another blogging break

Time to leaf you…

And now…it’s time for this one to take another blogging break.

Yes, you knew this would happen, didn’t you?

You recognize the pattern, don’t you, even though I’ve tried to deny it?

Some of us create, create, create, create…and then our fields must lie fallow as we renew, as we build up the soil of our creativity.

As the chill of November deepens, as the winds whip to a frenzy on Lake Superior, as the snowflakes scurry and spin…some of us heed the call to turn inward, to dream, to listen to the deepest inner voice whispering between pine needles, between scurrying autumn leaves scuttling on the frozen earth.

Last time I took one of these regular breaks a couple of you expressed concern, worry.  No, my friends!  Never worry about me while on retreat.  I am happy, somehow, at these times.  When the computer mostly turns off, when the emphasis turns inward, something in my soul sings like a cheerful chickadee.

(It sings in outward creativity and sharing, too, but it’s a different kind of song.)

As we turn toward the Thanksgiving holidays, I give thanks for all of you.

For your steadfast presence in my life.

For all the gifts you share with others.

For the gift of sharing your precious self, your unique thoughts, your individual gumption, your brightness, your magnificent beauty.  Your gorgeousness…

In my absence, please feel free to peruse my New and Revised blog roll.  Finally, after months and months, I’ve added new names & faces for you to enjoy.  I’ve deleted those who’ve passed by the wayside or remained silent so long that they’re composting into new friends.

Evergreen blessings!  May our hearts open further in gratitude in this upcoming season…

Life’s patterns…

P.S. The comments are turned off, dear readers, because we’re not saying goodbye, are we? We’re saying fare thee well, ye fallow field, ye. We’re shouting *over the river and through the woods* “Until we meet again! Fare thee well! Fare thee well!”

What is the opposite of Thanksgiving?

Larger view

Perhaps we all know what Thanksgiving is.  We know what it feels like.  Underneath all our turkey and stuffing, we know that Thanksgiving feels like gratitude, appreciation and love.  It smells like pumpkin pie mixed with joy.  It tastes like mashed potatoes whipped with the heart’s fairest harvest.  It is the giving of the feast of compassion, the giving of our deepest gifts.

But what is the opposite of Thanksgiving?

Closer view

Could it be the way we steer through our days on auto-pilot, concerned only about getting things done?  Concerned primarily about connecting the dots between A and B?  Could the opposite of Thanksgiving be our busy lives, our focused doing, our physical robotic movements?

Could the opposite of Thanksgiving be our forgetting to be grateful?  Our forgetting to marvel at the small gifts which life presents, moment after moment, hour after hour, day after day?  Could it be a sin of our attention?  As we focus on (you fill in the blank of your hectic schedule) do we simply give our attention to other things, forgetting to let the heart drink of appreciation and gratitude?


Is the opposite of Thanksgiving our tendency to focus on what’s wrong, what’s not working in the fabric of our days?  Are we focused on what’s ripped, what’s broken, what seems beyond repair?  Are our eyes and thoughts frantically attempting to fix, to sew, to knit new ways of existing?  Are we lost in our imperfection, our humanity, our feelings of wrongness?  Could this be the opposite?

Dock reflections

Are we ever simply ungrateful for what Life brings us?  Do we expect Life to bring us wine and roses, and mutter under our breath when it delivers compost and mud?  Do we think we deserve a basic standard of living or a millionaire’s dream?  Are we comparing ourselves with our neighbors and feeling envious?  Is this the opposite of Thanksgiving?

Do we think Thanksgiving is too much effort, or too silly, or impotent?  Do we think that it doesn’t really matter?  Do we not care?  Do we think gratitude is not a dove flying free above the trees, an orange sunset, the hug of a small child?

Ladder above and under water

Do we sometimes give from obligation, from tradition, from a heart partially squeezed shut in a frustration of too-much-materialism?  How much do we hold back from our family, friends, the world?  Is the opposite of Thanksgiving stinginess, clutching our gifts toward our own chests, attempting to fill an inner sense of lack, an inner suffering?

As we sit before our turkey or ham or green bean casserole, as we kneel our heads in prayer, as we smile at family members, shall we remember also the opposite of Thanksgiving?

And tomorrow–when we whip out our VISA cards and buy Christmas presents–can we remember again what Thanksgiving feels like and bring it into our daily busy lives, our tendency to forget, our focus on what’s missing?

Day is done. Gone the sun...

Thanks.  Giving.  Two simple words. 

Bringing them more fully into our daily lives may mean looking more deeply at why we choose other options between sunrise and sunset, why we grasp or push away Thanksgiving in our daily lives.

It’s not about feeling shame or guilt–wishing we could live Thanksgiving 24/7.  Instead it’s about finding space for these precious qualities in the ordinary moments of our day, in the rushing out the door, in the simple act of baking pie.  It’s a gentle reminder to ourselves:  Thanksgiving is now, when we choose to remember it.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends and family–from our Little House in the Big Woods

Don’t you wish Thanksgiving lasted another 364 days?

Heavy laden

Don’t you wish Thanksgiving stretched for an entire year?  Three hundred sixty-four more days?

Not the feasting part of Thanksgiving.  Not the eating part.  Not the traveling part.  Not the family get-together part.  (Although all those can be good parts!)


It’s the gratitude part that I wish would last all year.  The Thanks-giving part.  The giving of thanks. 

What if we recognized every day as a day of Thanks-giving?  What would our world be like?  Would our focus on gratitude overwhelm our focus on what’s wrong with life?  Would slowly, slowly, slowly (or quickly?) our world begin to reflect what’s right rather than what’s wrong? 

I would like to think it might be so.

You might think–looking at these winter photos–that sun shines outside the window today.

You would be wrong.

Baby Christmas Trees

On this, the day after Thanksgiving, a storm rages outside the warm house.  Not a total white-out storm, but a storm nonetheless.  Wind howls and snarls.  Windows shake.  The woodstove burns brighter.

My early Black Friday activity involved attempting to open the frozen door of the car.  Turning on the fan and defrosting full-blast.  Scraping the window.  Shivering.  Returning to the house to brush teeth and hair before venturing out in the pre-dawn black and white world.

Off to work at the school.  Early.  Usually I venture in around 11 a.m. for my hours of work, but today was different.  No kids.  No teachers.  Everyone lounged at home, digesting turkey and green bean casserole and potatoes and stuffing or whatever they ate during yesterday’s feast. 

Quiet school, built in the early 1900′s, wind shrieking in the window cracks.  Radiators humming.  Me, in my upstairs office, feeling cocooned from the storm. 

In my last blog I posted black and white photos.  Except they weren’t black and white photos.  They were simply photos of what our world looks like on a gray day in November.  Black.  White.  Only minor splashes of tan in grasses or a red fence. 

We live in a black and white world.

Then the sun, unexpectedly, bursts out for fifteen minutes.  These photos were all taken during a quarter-hour of sun.  Before the gray clouds reasserted themselves.  Before the snow gathered in the heavy clouds.  Before the storm.

Can you hear "Carol of the Bells"?

Have you been listening to Christmas carols?  I have.  Barry said it’s not official–and we can’t listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving (which would make today the Official Starting Day of the Christmas season).  I disagree.  Kiah called early in the month with joy in her voice after listening to her first Christmas songs.  She inspired me to start listening early.  She said listening to Christmas music can cheer you up if you’re feeling blue.  She is right.

I wish I could tell you that I’m not shopping today.  You know–to be a lone voice against the million of Black Friday shoppers advocating the Simple Lifestyle.  However, I have a couple of on-line Christmas purchases to make. 

What am I grateful for on this post-Thanksgiving day, this Black Friday? 

I am grateful for the beauty of the storm, for good tires on the car, for a wonderful place to work.  I am grateful for health, for a deep spiritual connection, for two wonderful children.  For Barry.  For extended family.  For the family of those who read this blog.  I am grateful for being able to create…to share…to connect with others living on this blue and green (and black and white) spinning globe.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader.  Every day of the year.

(Hark!  Is the sun peeking through the storm?  Could it be so?)