on thanksgiving.

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To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; to rest at noon and meditate love’s ecstasy; to return home at eventide with gratitude; and then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.”

-Kahlil Gibran

A year ago, my family stayed at my grandparent’s farm for the last time. Growing up, we spent most Thanksgivings there, usually up to 60 people deep around the table. After an early supper we would head down to the field for a friendly sunset football game before parting ways. In between Thanksgivings we would meet at the farm for big celebrations, like weddings and baby showers, and smaller visits, like a stopover while en route to our final destination. No visit was complete without a warm meal, a visit to the cows in the barn, and a couple of melodies from grandma on the baby grand.

When my grandmother passed away last summer, the fate of the farm was still in flux, but by Thanksgiving we knew that it was almost certainly our last one there. To remember that day always, I asked Jonathan Pretz to take some photos of our family at the farm for the last time. Just 5 years earlier, we stood in the same place as he captured our celebration of the impending arrival of our firstborn — photos from both days will forever be a gift to us.

So much has changed since then, and even now, I wonder what my grandmother would say about everything going on in the world since. In a year filled with so much loss, from both a personal and birds-eye perspective, I am still so full of gratitude for today. On this day, I am grateful that I was able to share a meal with the people in my home — my husband, our daughters, my sister and her partner. I am grateful that because of these people, our home has never felt empty or lonely during this ongoing pandemic. I am grateful that we were able to polish off the silver that my grandmother gave us for our wedding and use glasses and dishes that she passed on to us, so that we could have small reminders of her at this meal, even now. I am grateful for video calls with family in NY, PA, MD, OH, and FL, and for technology that allows us to not feel miles apart. I am grateful for 70F degree days in DC at the end of November that let us eat outside in the sunshine of our backyard.

Most of all, I am grateful for a happy, growing family. For health. For a rewarding job. For excitement about things currently in the works. For memories of loved people and places past.

Family photos on the farm: 1897 vs. 2019

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