We are going to have a small and motley Thanksgiving this year. Some years the gathering is slightly larger, but it’s still motley. This time there will be only a dozen or so of us.
Three will be very Catholicy Catholics, and a fourth will be a man who is just Catholic-ish. He loves Mary and wears scapulars from the Mission Gift Shop when under extreme stress, but he only goes to church every six weeks or so. When he arrives I’ll say, “Sinnerman!”
Two people will be wearing Claddagh rings, whatever they are. I think they might be some sort of Irish/Star Trek/Catholic rabbit’s-foot sort of thing. But don’t ask me, I’m just the host.
One of the people coming will be a German artist who claims to be agnostic but does not seem to have the courage of her convictions and is actually one of the dearest, most spiritual people I’ve ever known. She was my German aunt Gertrud’s friend and caregiver when Gertrud was dying; she read Hesse to Gertrud in German softly by her bed. Our family has informally adopted her, with all the attendant benefits and mortifications, so she is welcome to consume my inept but love-filled cooking at every holiday.
Two other guests are an older man and a younger woman who have always raised wolves. We don’t ask them a lot of prying questions, as they have sharp knives and know how to use them.
There will also be a bunch of riff-raff – i.e., our closest friends who did not get invited anyplace better.
Five of the 12 will be clean and sober, so they have a kind of ecumenical, kitchen-sink sort of Higher Power in their lives. They pray and meditate a lot – I mean a lot – and they seem happier and a little less tense than the average bear.
The kids will know lots of Jesus (and union) songs, which I began teaching them several weeks after they were born, so the day’s entertainment is already taken care of.
Best of all for me is that I get to say grace, because (as I announce every year) it is my house, my table, my chairs, and my utensils.
I will say something like:
“Thank you Mother-Father God, Creator and Source, for all this delicious food, even the dishes I cooked. Thank you for the miracle that we have all stuck together over the years, through thick and thin, through joy and great loss. We will miss forever our elders who have gone on to whatever awaits. We are blown away by your grace and tender mercies. Make us ever mindful of the needs of the poor. Amen.”
The Claddagh ring people will make a humming noise after they say Amen. I never know what that means, but they are married, so it is okay and probably none of my business (though did I mention that this is my house?). The German woman will be teary at the miracle that she is still a cherished and equal member of our family. And my son will be amazed that once again his nutty old mom has pulled this all off.
So there will be a lot of thanks and grace to go around.
Anne Lamott is the best-selling author of seven novels, including “Blue Shoe,” “Crooked Little Heart” and “Imperfect Birds,” and five works of nonfiction. Her latest work is a memoir, ”Some Assembly Required,” was co-written with her son, Sam Lamott.
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