Gratitude fills my heart. It permeates my being creating a sense of peace, contentment, joy.
I am grateful.
We are in Eastern Canada this week vising friends. Autumn leaves are falling, golden, red and bronzed. The lake is calm, its surface mirroring the beauty of the forest lining its shore.
Last night, we sat around a long table decorated with Thanksgiving flare and shared a meal, toasted one another and talked about the things for which we are grateful. The conversation was laden with stories and laughter. It was a communal dinner, everyone bringing something to the table.
It was Thanksgiving at its best.
Five year old Eli shared that he was thankful for Cranberry Sauce. I think he was also very grateful for the laughter his comment evoked.
From friendship to family, good health, travels, wives and husbands, children and grandchildren, we all talked about the people who make our lives rich, vibrant, meaningful.
This year, the gratitude in my heart has grown beyond my comprehension.
This is the first year Thurlow, our 8 month old grandson, is in our lives. And while we are not sitting at the table with Thurlow and my daughter and son-in-love in our midst I am grateful that he is in our lives and that they have a table around which to sit with family and friends this Thanksgiving on the other side of the country.
Yesterday, as I sat around the candlelit table and watched the faces of our friends as they shared their stories of gratitude and love, I remembered other Thanksgiving dinners, other tables around which I have sat. I felt my heart smile.
This is what makes my life so rich. People I love. Listening to their stories. Hearing of their adventures in the world. Of their family and friends in other places.
At one point my youngest daughter called from my sister’s home in Calgary where they too were sharing a Thanksgiving feast with family and friends. My mother was there, a tiny 96 year old woman who gave this story of my life its roots.
Earlier, I chatted with my eldest daughter in Vancouver. They are now staying with his mother and step-father for awhile. Their next abode uncertain. Last week a fire destroyed the apartment building in which they lived in downtown Vancouver. On Friday evening they learned it was deemed uninhabitable.
Heartbreaking news in a city where the cost of housing is sky-rocketing.
Her confidence and determination, her desire to help those who lost everything in the fire reminded me of the power of our human spirit to endure. To persevere. To overcome hardship.
Aside from some smoke damage, their belongings survived the fire. Others in the building did not.
When it was my turn to share the things for which I am grateful, I talked about my family, friends, loved ones all. But the thing I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving are the First Responders. Those women and men who run into danger as we run away. Those women and men who respond to our need for safety, help, healing.
When my daughter ran out of her building with her son on Thursday morning, she flagged down a police officer driving by. She yelled, “There’s a fire in our building.”
Without hesitation, he stopped his car, jumped out, grabbed her fob for the front door of the building and ran in to ensure people were getting out.
“He didn’t think twice,” my daughter told me.
Within minutes firetrucks were on the scene and firemen and women raced into the building.
I am grateful.
Because of them, 34 of the 44 families in the building did not lose their belongings.
And while it is tragic and hard to think of 10 families with nothing this Thanksgiving, every single person in that building got out safely because of the men and women who raced into the fire to ensure they got out.
I am grateful.
There is so much in my life I take for granted because there are those who safeguard my freedom, my safety, my life.
May I never take for granted my family and friends who make my life so rich, vibrant and meaningful.
And may I always express my gratitude for those who ensure I can take for granted my safety, freedom and peace of mind. May I always be grateful for being able to run away from danger because they are there to protect me.