This past week I’ve heard stories of people not going home for Thanksgiving because they’re upset their relatives voted differently than they did.
Add one more to the list of disheartening effects the 2016 election has had on our country. Thanksgiving is the holiday that’s supposed to bring us together. Thanksgiving is a holiday all Americans share regardless of faith, political beliefs, or economic status, a holiday only Mr. MacGoo might object to. It also happens to be my favorite one.
I hate to think of people alone and angry this day, nursing grudges or avoiding toxic situations.
So this Thanksgiving poem-elfing is for the divided dinner table. For the arguments narrowly avoided and the arguments that’ll erupt over the fifth bottle of wine. For old hurts and fresh injuries passed around with the potatoes, for the comments swallowed and the ones blurted out, for tongues bit and tongues wagged. But most of all for the love and gratitude that bring a group of people together to sit shoulder-to-shoulder and share food. This poem-elfing is for bridges over our divides and reinforcements for our connections.
And if you’re a family that sees eye-to-eye on all issues, all I can say is, Welcome to Planet Earth! Golly gee, alien life forms among us!
On to the elfing. I went to Costco and found it surprisingly easy, even among the hoards of shoppers, to leave poems in food displays with no one noticing.
I started with a wine glass where I left a quote, not a poem, by Rosseau.
It’s a favorite of mine I may have quoted once or twice here in the past. I never tire of mulling this one over. Write it on your hand and read before opening your mouth.
My least favorite part of Thanksgiving is chopping onions. My eyes, like my nerves, are overly sensitive. So into the onion bin I put Mary Oliver’s brief “Uses of Sorrow.”
It may takes me years to understand “this, too, was a gift.”
A display of pecan pies was a good spot for “While We Were Arguing” by Jane Kenyon.
“’You see, we have done harm,’” she writes. Words to remember before you sit down for dinner.
Jane Kenyon also wrote what I consider the most perfect Thanksgiving poem. It’s called “Otherwise” and I balanced it on a turkey.
Gratitude takes perspective, and there’s no perspective as good as this: It might have been/ otherwise.
A wine called “Seven Deadly Zins” was tailor-made for an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”
Here’s the perfect response to any argument. Memorize it—it’s the very reason people can’t be reduced to who they voted for.
In my Costco shopping loop, I reached the flowers last, which is where I put Anne Porter’s “Looking at the Sky.” Another beautiful Thanksgiving poem.
I shall never have enough time, she writes. Praise and gratitude for the whatever you have.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am grateful for all of you, for your insightful comments and continued support for this project.
Bonus: if you need some music to dance to while you’re cooking, here’s a song I heard this morning, courtesy of DJ Blizzard Lizzard: Rock a Side Pony.