"Every man’s memory is his private literature," Aldous Huxley wrote of our ability to recreate scenes from the past in our minds.
As one’s tally of years on this planet grows ever more numerous, much of what has been experienced in our meanderings through the decades becomes memories: some sweet, some bittersweet, some we’d as soon have obliterated.
The holidays, perhaps like no other time, are memory-filled: from the long-ago grammar school cutouts of turkeys and pilgrims adorning the blackboards, the songs in assembly — “Over the river and through the woods, to grandma’s house we go”; “We gather together, to ask the Lord’s blessing”; “Come ye thankful people, come/raise the song of harvest home/all is safely gathered in/ere the winter storms begin” — to the delicious aromas from the bountiful meal being prepared; the laughter and sharing of stories by those we loved.
But the years slip rapidly away, and parents, family, and friends are much too soon become old and gone from us. Thanksgiving gatherings increasingly become a time of reflection and wistful remembrance of those dear ones no longer in our midst, of gratitude for the ways in which they touched our lives and helped mold us into what we have become. And as we are blessed with children and grandchildren, we realize yet another level of thankfulness at being allowed to experience anew the wonder and joys of childhood and growth.
As the days now shorten, harvests are done, and the chill and drear of winter await, we embrace once again — as family, community, and nation — the tradition established by that brave pilgrim community almost 400 years ago, of offering thanks for all that has been achieved for us by those who’ve gone before us, most especially, in the month that includes Veteran’s Day, our gratitude to the millions who made the supreme sacrifice in this country’s wars and conflicts.
Despite our differences, and the acrimony that too often divides us and deters us from the goal of “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” we can be thankful that we are among the most fortunate people on earth: citizens of the land of the free and the home of the brave…