By G. E. Shuman
November is a month, for some of us here in the north, of settling in, of staying put, and of thinking thoughts of the soon-coming winter. For me, any spare time in October was spent doing the chores which make November’s settling in possible, like getting air conditioners put away, leaky doors fixed, and windows locked up tight in this hundred-plus-year-old house my family calls home. Leaves from our two huge maples faithfully cover the lawn each autumn, and always get raked away, just before the rakes, themselves, get put away and replaced by snow shovels, under the carport. Each year I spend some time making sure the old snow blower still starts, and is greased up, fueled up, and ready for the weather to come. I don’t mind doing these chores that make my home as efficient and comfortable as possible when the bad weather really hits.
I always seem to get a bit contemplative at this tucked-in holiday season, especially, it seems, in the past few years. This old house is not as full of family and their belongings as it once was. Sometimes that is a difficult thing for me to think about. I’m alone here more often than I am comfortable with being, and am thankful for the chance to fill some of the evening hours, when my wonderful wife is at work, with writing for you, dear readers. So, thank you for easing those hours, and for the chance to express a few thoughts that many of us, even though we are strangers to each other, likely still share.
Even now, as I sit here in silence, it is cold outside the windows of this house on the hill, and it is very dark out there. The winds of one more late fall evening beat against the aging glass panes, but fortunately, those winds have always stayed on the outside of this place. For this I am thankful. Indeed, it is quite warm in here, and cozy, tonight. The furnace works well, and there is enough fuel. Although, sometimes, I still light the fireplace, as I did when the kids were young, just because.
All of this contemplation is not always a sad thing to me, but is, sometimes, a chance for reflection on the things my wife and I have done this year, and, reaching back further, the things we have done throughout all of the years that we have lived in this place. Obviously, without her, there would be no ‘we’, and being with her is, thankfully, where this all began, for me. We were so blessed to raise five tremendously talented children in this old place, for which I am, truly, thankful. You know… those amazing people are as diverse as any five children could ever be, and I would still do anything at all for any one of them.
Also, so far, 33 Christmas trees have graced a stand, and have been placed in one corner or another of one of our front rooms. Uncounted late-night hours have been spent wrapping the gifts that would fill that corner for each year’s coming December 25th. Seemingly countless numbers of birthday cakes, Easter hams, Thanksgiving turkeys, and other celebratory foods and fun have been enjoyed here, too.
I have been, truly and unquestionably, very blessed. Having a beautiful, faithful, Christian wife, wonderful children and grandchildren, and a warm home to share with them all makes for quite a life. What more could a man ever ask for?
I’m not at all sure why the words that have assembled on my computer screen this evening have done so as they have. When I write, that is often the case. (I guess I’ll have to go back and read them, to see what they say.) I think, tonight, it is just because I can’t help but tell you that I am very thankful for my life, and for the people in it; for what I have, and for what I have had. I hope you feel the same way about your life, too.
Unless you are a member of my family, or of my small group of friends, I don’t know anything about your beliefs. How could I? In any case, I will let you know mine. I believe in God, in His son Jesus, in our nation, and very much, in family. I also believe it is important to recognize, and to be grateful for, all that we have in this cornucopia of a country that we share, especially in this contemplative, settled-in time of year.
I hope you will take a few minutes, as the holidays approach, not to stop and smell the roses, as there are few roses outside right now, but to stop and sense the fullness of what your life is, and of what you have experienced, so far. And, in a word, to be thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving! – G. S.