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My true Thanksgiving
Scripps Howard News Service


November 24, 2005

This is the lull before the storm we call "the holidays."

Can you hear it? Of course not. It's silence - a rarity, especially at this time of year.

My house is now clean, or as clean as it gets. I've changed the sheets, dusted the stove and put the vacuum cleaner back in the closet for another year.

In a few hours (or maybe days, as I'm never really sure just when they'll all show up until I see the whites of their eyes) my three grown children and their "others" will start returning to the nest.

Upon their arrival, the phone will start ringing. The dryer will begin to hum. The cat will get catty and go into hiding. And the refrigerator will start to open and close like the sliding door of a supermarket.

All the silent, empty spaces will be filled to overflowing with belly laughs and loud music and other sounds I've come to love - a basketball bouncing on the back court; glasses clinking in the kitchen; bare feet clomping up and down the stairs.

But for now, at least, between the drudgery of cleaning house and the delight of "welcome home," all is quiet and still.

Including me.

This is my true Thanksgiving. I look forward to it each year - a chance to catch my breath, get my bearings and count my blessings, all at once.

It's my own private tradition. I do it at Christmas, New Year's, Mother's Day, even Halloween, if I think of it. But especially at Thanksgiving.

I've been doing it most of my life. It started when I was little. I heard a sermon on "life's extras" - little fine things like birdsong and chocolate and chrysanthemums and happiness - things that might not be necessary for survival, but are awfully good for the soul.

My life has a lot of "extras." I suspect yours might, too.

Take color, for example. Who needs it? If the world were seen only in shades of black and white, and that was all you ever knew, would you miss red and yellow and green and blue?

My brother, who was born blind, lives quite well in total darkness. But as a child, he liked for me to tell him about the sunrise - the colors of the light, the shapes of the clouds, the fanning of angels' wings.

He could see it clearly in his mind's eye. So if my words fell short of what he saw, he'd say, "No, that's not it, try again."

I could live without color if I had to, maybe, but it would take some getting used to.

Doesn't everything?

I have lots to give thanks for this year - a new husband, two new stepsons, a new daughter-in-law, all sorts of new branches on the family tree.

At the same time, I have friends who have recently lost loved ones - a daughter, a husband, a father, a mother, a wife. I know firsthand how hard it can be to feel grateful when you've lost someone you never dreamed you'd live without.

Still, I hope they can count a few blessings; that they'll have more than enough "extras" to make life worthwhile; that they will see colors, even in a black-and-white world.

Soon, my children will be home and I'll have to figure out, once again, which end of a turkey to stuff.

As always, I'll set two tables for family and friends: One in my dining room for those who will be with me; and one in my heart for those who will not.

I'll set a place for you at that second table. I hope you'll set one for me.

Here's wishing you and yours all of life's extras - and a few quiet moments to be thankful.


Sharon Randall is the author of "Birdbaths and Paper Cranes."
She can be reached at P.O. Box 931, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, or at randallbay(at)

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