October 17, 2021

Between Thanksgivings: A Time for Reflection.

My calendar is becoming increasingly riddled with significant dates as I grow older.

One of my brothers told me since there are only 365 days for anything to happen, that this is inevitable. The time period between the Thanksgiving holidays, the Canadian one in mid-October and the American one near the end of November is particularly packed. But the centerpiece of all of this is my mother’s birthday.

My mother’s birthday was right around Canadian Thanksgiving, sometimes it was on Columbus Day, which is now Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The anniversary of her mother’s death was days before her birthday. The birthdays of my sisters’ ex-husbands fall in this time window. Other anniversaries, birthdays, death dates fall between Thanksgivings. October and November are weighty months for me. The time changes back to standard time, reminding me how my mother thought this clock-changing business was a ridiculous practice.

The autumnal harvest and slow descent into winter hibernation send me into a particularly reflective mood; as I watch my garden go dormant, the trees shed their leaves, and I dig my sweaters from storage in the basement. The furnace fires up for the first time, sending stale air through the ductwork. Between Thanksgivings, I am grateful that I have sweaters and heat, and a garden to close for winter.

Between Thanksgivings, I overthink my life and feel pangs of nostalgia. Nostalgia from the Greek, the pain of returning home. But as much as I feel the wistfulness for the past, I feel gratitude for having these experiences. I think of all those people that I love, all those memories that I have, even as I know that the changes were going to be. I remember that this is the nature of our existence; everything changes.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
~ The Five Remembrances

I have a cast-iron skillet that belonged to my great-grandmother. She made fried chicken for Sunday dinners in it and my mother gave it to me. I’ll probably bake a cobbler from this year’s apple harvest; the oven will take the chill out of the kitchen. I’ll pull a hand-crocheted afghan out of the chest in the living room. Didn’t everyone’s grandmother have one of these stretched across the back of the sofa? Between Thanksgivings, relatives reach from the past, helping to feed me and keep me warm.

I look at my planner calendar and see my intermittent schedule of appointments written in. There are assignments, responsibilities, and holidays. But in my mind, I also see the unwritten observances that are my memories alone, too personal to write, too private to share. As one day flows into the next, I remember that all I have is this present moment. Moments to come will be just like the leaves falling from the trees and my life will be peppered with more events to write on the calendars in my heart.

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