Why I am thankful: a look back to 1986

Pixie grazing

Thanksgiving 1986

Snow flurries drifted down.

I woke up alone in a four-bedroom house. It had never been a home. I had only lived there 13 months.

The house was going to be sold and the proceeds divided however the divorce court decreed my parents should split them.

I peered in the fridge for some breakfast. A plastic gallon container had only enough milk to cover the bottom. I poured it over some stale raisin bran flakes.

I crunched the mostly dry cereal.

I put on jeans, a sweater, a hat, mittens and my coat, a wool Russian military jacket I found in
a used clothing store in Minneapolis.

I had nowhere to go. I walked the streets of the subdivision. The houses had packs of cars parked in front of them. Inside bodies moved across the yellow lights shining out. Blue TVs flashed and every so often I could hear the murmur of crowds from inside the houses. Families filled the homes.

I had no family like that. I had no home like that.

I walked on.

I walked past the gas station, closed on the holiday. It had a vending machine for bait. “How Minnesotan,” I thought.

The grey sky drooped over me. I walked along the frozen lake. Snow twisted and untwisted in swirls from the wind gusts.

“I will always be alone,” I thought.


Thanksgiving week 2016

The light spread long warmth over the field. I grabbed my camera, a combined surprise gift from friends on my 40th birthday.

“I’m going out to get some pictures,” I told my family.

I sat in the pasture and the pony came close to me to graze the still-green grass. It had been a warm fall.

Out of all the acreage, she chose to be close to me.

She had been starving when she was rescued. The horses in the herd with her had died. But she survived. The people at Longmeadow brought her back to health. Then we adopted her, skittish and shy though she was.

Over the past five years with us, her friendly, confident self bloomed.

I sat with her and listened to her eat. The sun set.

I came inside, inside my home with my husband and son.

My son helped me pick the best photos and edit them.


I am thankful for my home.

I am thankful for my memories of no home because now I know what I have.

I am thankful for my family.

I am thankful for my memories of being alone because now I know what I have.

I am thankful that ponies can forgive and learn to love.

I am thankful that people can forgive and learn to love.

I am thankful for today.

I am thankful for today.


Wherever you are, may you know the presence of God and feel the peace that transcends understanding. I wish you a Thanksgiving full of enough to eat and a heart full of hope!

Pixie grazing

Pixie grazing

Pixie grazing

Pixie grazing

Pixing grazing

Pixie grazing

Blue icing and dried grass: a Thanksgiving prayer

Miko horse at sunset with hay

blue icingGod, we thank you for this life,
babies born and growing,
hands covered in blue icing from
a first-birthday cupcake.

Thank you for babies who become kids in college
and turn in final papers and
shine in visible brightness.
Bless the next wave of your people.

We thank for you for
the memory of loved ones
gone on to glory.
The funeral flowers have wilted.
The hymns quieted down.
For all those who notice an absence
at the table, comfort them.

We thank you for this feast and
all the people who brought it to us:
the turkey farmers who dedicate
all their days to the care of the birds
and the turkey farmers’ daughters who
have to be understanding about
their fathers never taking a vacation
because farming is an everyday job.

Miko horse at sunset with hayWe thank you for all your creatures,
horses who only ask for water and dried grass,
dogs who nap at our sides and
appreciate scraps from the table.
A walk is ever new to them,
always cause for celebration.
They show us the reason for joy
can be simple.

We remember the ones without hope
and pray for their salvation.
The agonized, the lonely, the lost.
Let them know it’s not too late to remember
your love.

Bless the ones who suffer,
who have come out of surgery
and need your healing.
Ease their pain.

Bless the ones who wait in the hospital,
who don’t know what will happen,
who know they should pray but
find themselves worrying when the lights
go down and the corridors go quiet.
Even with all the medical machines,
it can be so quiet.
Lord, let them hear you.

Bless the wives who witness their husbands decline,
the bodies once the height of strength become
frail. The men never imagined their tree-climbing days would end.
They want to stand straight but their spines bend as hooks do.
When did I become old? they wonder. When did gravity win?
The wives soldier on with patience and bring cups of water.
They smile with determination as they accept good wishes.
They make the best of it.
They don’t let themselves fall apart.
Keep them together; help them travel
a difficult road.

Bless the daughter who visits her mother,
but her mother cannot speak.
Her mother doesn’t remember.
Her mother can no longer walk.
Her gardening and laughter are over.
Her mind has bleached into one long snowy landscape,
details covered over;
white stillness stretches from now until
the end of her days.
The brave daughter holds her mother’s thin hand,
warming it between her palms,
giving it a squeeze.
It has to be enough.
Please give your blessing to
the mothers who have forgotten and
the daughters who have not.

We praise you,
not because our lives are easy,
not just for obvious blessings,
but for air to breathe and
another day of life.
Be glad!
This is the day to
thank you.