Once upon a time there was a family…I imagine many of you can relate…

whose traditions on the holidays…they love to recreate.


Who would eat Thanksgiving dinner with all the family gathered nigh…

turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce…their desert…a pumpkin pie.


And sometime in the evening, after all the dishes have been cleared

It is time for PopPop to take a family portrait…it’s tradition…every year.


But divorce changed the family dynamic…which means we had to find a way

to celebrate Thanksgiving…not always…on Thanksgiving Day.


And then some of the family member grew up…and moved away…

meaning a seat or two wold be empty…around the table Thanksgiving Day.


Even though they cannot be there…due to their other obligations

when the family gets together they are in our hearts and conversations.


Next, two of the family members became vegetarians…

their distaste for eating animals they cannot hide…

So, when the rest of the family eats the turkey…

they are content with eating sides.


This year, after 35 years, of hosting…we celebrated with a buffet…

at the house of one of our children and his wife…Thanksgiving brunch…on Saturday!


All the family who could make it were there…and with a dog who would not be ignored

the family broke up into teams for a friendly game of holeyboard.


And when the game was over and all the dishes had been cleared

the family member with the longest arms took a selfie…our family portrait for this year.


Yes, once upon a time there was a family…I imagine many of you are relating

whose traditions on the holidays…they are constantly re-creating.

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Thanksgiving is a great time to count our blessings

It’s a time when our hearts should soar…

as we sit back and think about…all the things we are thankful for…


A time to put aside, for a moment at least, our fears, anxieties, and stress

A time to look back on our life…to reevaluate…to reassess.


On this my 70th Thanksgiving…as the years continue to mount…

I find the list of the blessings in my life have gotten easier to count.


I’m healthy and I’m happy…and as thankful as can be…

to be surrounded by the affection of my friends and the love of my family…


And I’m thankful for the dreams I had…the old ones and the new…

for the failed dreams that led to other dreams…which eventually came true.


And  I’m thankful how I’ve come to understand 

In life….what is truly paramount...

when adding up my blessings...

Is knowing which blessings to count.

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As we take time out to celebrate with our friends and family 

I’ve composed a prayer in the shape of a rhyme… 

That, thankfully, on this Thanksgiving…

won’t take up too much of your time:


Today…and every day…may we find within our hearts

more love…more kindness…and forgiving…

and may today…and every day…be filled with

more heartfelt thanks…and selfless giving.



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One of our favorite Christmas traditions in our home…our habitat..

is to write everyone’s name on a separate sheet of paper and throw them in a hat.


On Thanksgiving the hat is shaken then passed around to everyone on the floor…

who pick the name of the person they’ll be buying a present for.


It’s a wonderful tradition born out of the desire to teach the meaning of giving 

and the need for thrift…

as everyone only buys one present and everyone receives only one gift.


I’ve been known in my family to do a little magic and some pranks…this is true…

and this story is about the one Christmas I deftly combined the two.


Since it’s supposed to be a secret…the name you are assigned…

in the hat we passed around one Thanksgiving all the names inside it…were mine!


You see I was in charge of writing the names and passing the hat around too…

which made this prank and unexpected magic trick easy for me to do.


The hat was passed…the names were picked…my plan was working beautifully…

each family member opened their paper, read the name…and secretly smiled at me.


I would have eventually told the truth that night…at least that’s the story I like to tell…

but I never got the chance because it seems the members of my family can’t keep a secret very well.


I wasn’t there to hear their conversations…which, in retrospect, I am glad…

when Deborah found out she had me…

and all our children.. found out that they had Dad.


I had another hat ready…which, of course, we passed around then…

and I smiled wondering if my children…would ever trust me again…


Yesterday as is our tradition we passed the hat…

it went smoothly…as it always does

And I smiled…as I always do…

thinking about….

the Christmas that almost was.

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In the three preceding poems I penned quite recently

I wrote how I was thankful for my house, my friends…my family.


But house and friends and family are mere words that by themselves have no appeal…

What gives them their beauty…their allure, their significance…is our ability to feel.


I’m thankful for as long as I can remember…from the time I was a boy

how I could feel…happiness…pleasure…ecstasy…awe…excitement..joy.


I’m thankful for my confidence…my pride…my self esteem…

for my ability to imagine, to wish, to hope…to dream…


And though I am truly thankful for all the wonders listed above…

I believe I am most thankful for my ability to love.


Love is a magnificent creation…an incredible gift…for it has this wonderful ability

to enhance the way we feel about ourselves, our house, our friends…our family.


The fact we can feel love…in all its forms…both big and small

is, perhaps, when you stop to think about it…the greatest gift of all.


But the ability to feel…as wonderful as it can be also has a darker side…

It opens us to feelings of sorrow and misery…feeling we can’t hide.


It stands to reason…if we have the ability to feel joy…we will also feel pain…there will be tiimes we bask in the sunshine…and times we must endure the rain.


But I have found what makes the joy more joyous and the sorrow go down more easily..

is our ability to love and to feel the love of our friends and family.


So this Thanksgiving when in your house…with friends and family…convening….

rejoice and remember it’s our ability to love and be loved that gives our life its meaning.


Love can to make a house a home…

It connects us with friends and family…

it can energize…soothe…and heal

which is why this Thanksgiving…as I do every day…

I give thanks for my ability to feel.

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I love family traditions…but with a blended family and only so much time in any holiday…we decided…when we blended…to celebrate our holidays in untraditional ways.


I believe if William Shakespeare was alive today he’d find a way to spin it…he’d say, ‘these traditions of yours be madness…yet there is a method in it.’


Take Thanksgiving for instance…it’s a holiday as a family we love to celebrate…but we don’t often come together on the exact Thanksgiving date.


Though many families will be celebrating Thanksgiving today…our celebration won’t commence until we get together Sunday…if you’re keeping track…that’s three days hence.


Shakespeare…never a playwright to shy away from twist or change…might agree by saying, ‘This is certainly different…but it is also wondrous strange.’


Come this Sunday, when our family gets together…when we open up our doors…there will be lots of sides for the vegetarians…and meat for the carnivores.


And even though we will be celebrating our Thanksgiving…not today…but three days after…our house will be filled with hugs and kisses…with stories…with smiles and laughter.


And we’ll take some time to think about our ancestors…and living relatives who for their own reasons are unable…to make it home this Thanksgiving and sit around our table.


For here’s a simple fact every parent of ever family has found…as our children and grandchildren grow up…it gets more difficult to gather them around.


So this Sunday will be giving thanks with whatever family is in the room…and with all those who can’t make it home…we’ll call…perhaps we’ll Zoom.


We’ll be giving thanks we have a family for everyone to come home to…and we’ll be giving thanks for traditions…the old ones…and the new


I imagine if Shakespeare was alive today…he’d go on Facebook, Instagram…or perhaps he’d even Tweet:

‘That which we call Thanksgiving…on any other day…would taste as sweet.’



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With the pandemic still taking lives…with our country so divided…

where half the people think wearing masks is fruitless and misguided…


What do we have to be thankful for in this year…2020?

If we look to the innocence of children…it turns out…there is plenty.


I love listening to children…they are innocent and bright…
After being thankful for they parents and their family their innocence takes flight.


It’s not surprising food is next…the things that feed their hungry bellies…

They are thankful for chicken nuggets, cookies, ice cream

and peanut butter sandwiches…made with jelly.


They are thankful for mermaids, for toilet paper, for rainbows…

for playgrounds with swings and slides.

They are thankful for the people who make shoes…

and relatives who give piggyback rides.


They are thankful for all the little things they see with their big eyes…

for ants and lizards and caterpillars…for bees and butterflies.


They are thankful for their house, for music…for TV and I-Pads…

One little boy listed Netflix first…and second was Mom and Dad.


Another little girl after being thankful for her parents…both her father and her mother

added, although she was praying for a puppy…she was thankful she got a little brother…


Yes the pandemic is still raging and our country is more divided than it ever was before

but there is still so much in this wonderful world for us to be thankful for….


Since 2020 has been so crazy…a ride so unpredictable…so bizarre…so wild

this year I’ll be giving thanks…as if I was a child.


I’ll close my eyes…I’ll fold my hands and even if it’s only for a little while

I’ll give thanks for all the little things this year that made me smile.


Yes, for a little while all the little things I will try to name…

With the hope that this Thanksgiving…everyone else can do the same.


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I had a friend many years ago who always said Happy Thanksgiven.

We all smiled at her malapropism…and she was immediately forgiven.


Many years have passed and this friend has long since left my sight

but when I consider what today means…I now think…

she was right.


Every other holiday we celebrate…though they certainly uplift

has become less about the meaning of that day…

and more about the gifts.


That’s what makes Thanksgiving special…more familial…less stressed.

That’s what makes Thanksgiving…different from the rest.


In a society that can be harried, fast paced 

and often excess driven

today is a great day to contemplate and be thankful 

for all the gifts we have been given.


Not the gifts that we unwrap…from boxes we throw away

but the gifts that we’ve been given 

that are with us every day.


Gifts that make life special…gifts that never end

like sitting around a table with family and friends.


Coming together as a family at least one time every year

where we eat, we laugh…tell stories…

and remember those no longer here.


Gifts planted throughout our lives that continuously bloom…

Gifts we see on the faces of everybody in the room.


As we watch our children…now grown up…

we laugh and smile with ease

remembering how it used to feel 

when they sat upon our knees.


Thanksgiving reminds us to cherish these moments 

knowing they will not last long

a reminder of what holds a family together…

of what what makes a family strong.


That’s what makes Thanksgiving special…

that’s why families amass 

because we know the best path into the future…

is by linking to our past. 


Seems my old friend was right all along…

she need not ever be forgiven

Today’s a day to say thanks….


for all the gifts we have been given.


I had a friend with a unique way of looking at the world

(although I once thought she was misled)

because when the rest of us said ‘Happy Thanksgiving’

‘Happy Thanks-given’ is what she said.


It is a day we come together

and give thanks for all the ways we have been blessed

for our health

our happiness

our friends

our family

all the treasures we possess…


For years we’ve come together

we’ve flown

we’ve taken trains

we’ve driven…

to celebrate not only this Thanksgiving

but years of thanks already given…


So as you sit down for your feast this year

as you’ve done so may times before…

to give thanks for this years blessings

remember all the years you’re thankful for….


Remember all the thank yous

over the years you have amassed…

and how our thank yous of today and tomorrow

are linked to thank yous of the past. 


I guess my friend was right all along

so allow me….If I may

to wish you not only a Happy Thanksgiving


but a Happy Thanks-given day.