Thursday, November 28, 2013

Three things for which I never expected to be thankful: The Thursday Afternoon #MINI post, #Thanksgiving edition, #8



Happy Thanksgiving all! I hope you are spending it with friends and family, and that you don't need to unbutton your pants before dessert--because that's bad form. For starters, (in our house, that would be the olive/pickle/cheeseball tray--my late mother-in-law's tradition--and we miss you Nanni!) let me say that I am #thankful for my family. I have been blessed, and there is nothing in this world more important to me. Having said that, let's get to the turkey of today's post: three things for which I never expected to be thankful.

Number 1: the broccoli and cheese casserole (borrowed from my sister-in-law, with whom we used to spend Thanksgiving before our kids got too big to travel). I am thankful not to be working today. Who works on Turkey day, you say?  I remember a Thanksgiving about twenty years ago, staring out at the grey and bleak Syracuse skyline from my call room in the top floor of the hospital, thinking about my loved ones back at home as I chased around the hospital, doing what an intern does--all the scutwork for the residents, fellows and attendings in exchange for them teaching me how to doctor. I can remember almost feeling sorry for myself--until I remembered the boy in the floor below me was being killed by leukemia. And so I trudged down and held his hand so his parents could get a cup of bad coffee, and watched the blood seep out of his eyes as he slowly died. When he passed away the next morning I felt like Chuck Norris had kicked me in the stomach a dozen times. I can only imagine--and pray never to know--how his parents felt. I have thought about them a hundred times in the last twenty years, and admired their fortitude, their bravery, and their courage to wake up in the morning and watch the blood seep out of their son's eyes. God bless you both.

Number 2: the stuffing (my personal favorite). I am thankful for the Carthusian monks living in the Charterhouse of the Transfiguration in Arlington, Vermont. (You never expected that one, did you?) From where I live on top of Blueberry Hill, I can see Mount Equinox to the south, towering over 3,000 feet into the Vermont skyline. Just below the summit, tucked into a little valley on the lee side of the mountain, lies a large stone monastery where several dozen monks spend their lives praying for you and I. (And I really need and appreciate the prayers.) God bless all of you.

Number 3: the sweet potato casserole with the marshmallow topping. (A tradition my wife started, borrowed from someone whose name I can't recall). I am thankful not be living in a foreign country on this truly American holiday. I feel this way because I spent three Thanksgivings in Austria, and, although I loved it, it was a rough couple of days. One year, I hiked up the Untersberg and met my friends at a Gasthof at the bottom of the mountain: fun, but not the same. Give a shout out to all the Americans who are overseas today, especially the military, Foreign Service personnel, Peace Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Jewish World Service, and all the others who are away from home serving their country and/or their ideals. God bless all of you.

I could go on, but--thankfully--I won't: the #MINI is an unforgiving master. And thanks to all of you; I appreciate your support.