Thanksgiving for Two
by Marjorie Saiser
The adults we call our children will not be arriving
with their children in tow for Thanksgiving.
We must make our feast ourselves,
slice our half-ham, indulge, fill our plates,
potatoes and green beans
carried to our table near the window.
We are the feast, plenty of years,
arguments. I’m thinking the whole bundle of it
rolls out like a white tablecloth. We wanted
to be good company for one another.
Little did we know that first picnic
how this would go. Your hair was thick,
mine long and easy; we climbed a bluff
to look over a storybook plain. We chose
our spot as high as we could, to see
the river and the checkerboard fields.
What we didn’t see was this day, in
our pajamas if we want to,
wrinkled hands strong, wine
in juice glasses, toasting
the decades of side-by-side,
our great good luck.
From I Have Nothing to Say about Fire
The Backwaters Press, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press, 2016.
Though it may not always seem the case during the holidays, we get to choose which river we step into, by making the most of every given moment and letting the current of love carry us through.
It’s difficult to resist the social pressure that turns the holidays into an excuse for consumption and stress. Yet Marjorie Saiser brings love and acceptance to a situation that might anger or disappoint other parents: her children will not be coming home for Thanksgiving. Even in the first line, she acknowledges that they are adults with lives and children of their own, and we even sense a hint of relief that she and her husband will get to “indulge” alone this year, reminiscing about “that first picnic” that led them to this day together.
Saiser reminds us that when we “make our feast ourselves,” when we transform the holidays back into holy days that focus on joy and deeper connection, we see how the abundance of our “good company,” no matter who or what that might be, “rolls out like a white tablecloth” before us. So often, we’re caught in the rush of obligation that we forget to pause and drink from the more nourishing waters of thanks for our lives as they are, in all their messiness. The author and counselor Sheryl Paul points out, “There are two rivers that pulse through the holiday season: a river of anxiety informed by the need to consume and socialize and stay loud and busy, and a river of love informed by the waters of giving and gratitude.” Though it may not always seem the case during the holidays, we get to choose which river we step into, by making the most of every given moment and letting the current of love carry us through.
Try journaling or writing a poem about your own Thanksgiving and list what “given moments” you anticipate during the day that you very much look forward to. You might also focus on the present moment of preparing for this holy day of thanks, describing the sensations of joy and glimpses of gratefulness that can come even in the midst of such busyness when we pause and decide to step into “the river of love.”
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The line, “We are the feast” rings so true for me. That probably would have been my choice for a title to Saiser’s poem. I’ve spent many holidays without spouse or extended family but there have always been others who invite me to join them or who are grateful for the invite to join me at my table. This whole journey we call life is about learning that we belong.The words of my mentor from long ago ring in my ears.”We are here to integrate our insides with our outsides.” My own growth in awareness elaborates on that integration: “We are all here to move from longing to belonging.”
Hello, Carol, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday. You chose my favorite line too from the poem, “We are the feast.” This is true whether we are in solitude or in company with others. I so appreciate what you say about this journey we call life. Many blessings to you.
So beautiful, Carol. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.