Space to Fill

Warning: what you are about to read is not clever. It has not been edited for treacle, banality or minutia. I am pretty sure I am over-telling and under-showing. It is Thanksgiving morning 2014 and I need a dose of raw, unfiltered gratitude. Stat.

I am thankful that my husband is healthy. Eight months ago he was having major surgery. Last night, he was trying to make brussel sprouts tastes less like cabbage.  

I am thankful for our two sons who are kind, confident and passionate. Do you want me to tell you more about them? I have time. Do you want to see pictures of them? I downloaded several hundred off of facebook just last night. I love being their mom.

I am thankful I am safe, have a dry place to live, enough food, and warm clothes. I never take these things for granted.  

Today I am waking up with just two people in the house, one is still sleeping and one is typing. This is the first time my husband and I have been alone for a big holiday since . . . ever. It just happened. One of our boys is staying home and attending a “Friendsgiving.” The other is studying abroad. Friends and family can’t make the trip or are coming for Christmas instead. Several plans shifted at the last minute, and subsequently, my husband and I are here and everyone we typically host is somewhere else. We do have an invite for dinner, but we will not have the usual tumult of out-of-town guests, board games and traditional recipes. There is no turkey brining in a black garbage bag on our stoop. No stack of pies. No anticipation of someone squirting soda through their nose in response to mass hilarity.

I am thankful for all the extended family who do not necessarily get us, but love us anyway.

I am thankful for all my friends who listen to me and assure me that I am great, guiding me back to some version of great when I am being ridiculous.

I am thankful that I have interesting work that keeps my busy brain busy.  

I enjoy our empty nest, but I have been dreading the quiet today. It is certainly not a unique situation compared to others’ experiences, but it is a transitional moment for me and I have been vacillating between blue and cross for days. I sense I let something slip or dropped a ball that was always lobbed in my direction without much effort. I should have done something, rounded up some people. I have been distracted lately and not paying attention. So here I am, feeling very sorry for myself.

I am thankful for all my beautiful dishes, for fabric and yarn, for my new purple bicycle.  

I am thankful for passages from books that I remember as if I actually had the very same adventure or idea or had lunch with Fern, or Seymour, or Harry, or ee just yesterday.

I am thankful I have curly hair as an excuse to never use a blow dryer or a brush.   

The antidote seems obvious, but I have to remind myself. It is Thanksgiving morning after all, the possibilities dawn slowly. I let my mind drift to what makes my life meaningful. The practice of gratitude is immediate and powerful.

I am thankful for my pink unicorn head pencil sharpener, for my stained glass angel, for all the propped up thank you/mother’s day/birthday cards, for printed photographs, for accumulating bags of Christmas presents, for CDs of Shaker music, for my stapler that never jams, for a calendar from the college my son attends.

little princessEach token holds a story I share with another person. The unsettled yearning begins to ease. How can I feel alone when I am surrounded? Once I begin a gratitude list it is hard to stop. I realize that everything I have is a gift given by miracle, good fortune or the brilliance and generosity of others. In the book A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Sarah Crewe comes back to her cold, grey attic room one night to discover it has been unexpectedly transformed into a warm, bright, comforting haven. She wraps herself in a soft robe she has never seen before and marvels at the mystery. This is what happens to me when I start looking around my world. I am dazzled by how much and how colorful and how interesting it all is and cannot imagine how I could ever perceive life to be anything but utterly magical. With or without an entourage.

I am thankful for today.

I warned you. Gratitude is not tidy. It cannot be held to word count or captured in a metaphor or explained as an exact process. It simply notices “what is” rather than “what else.” This strange day has opened a space for me to wonder, and in wondering, the space is now brimming.  


Pandora spends most of her time tinkering with bits of words, fabric and yarn. She lives in Chicago with her husband and a pug. She has two grown up sons who have many adventures.

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7 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    I am so glad this is the first thing I read this morning. What a gorgeous Thanksgiving sermon to guide my heart and mind on a day when I am easily distracted by peeling and basting and hostessing. I am grateful.

  2. Em says:

    Thank you for this. I also have a very mild Thanksgiving planned. I’m making one pie, and we’re eating with my husband’s parents. Four people, a quiet meal. A calm morning of drizzle, peeling apples and NPR. I’m thankful for the peace.

  3. spunky says:

    This is fabulous, Pandora. Thank you so much for sharing thanksgiving in its own lind of sweet isolation.

  4. Melody says:

    I love the way you composed this. Thank you for sharing your morning, your life. I’m an empty-nester too and I keep being surprised that things still change. Life is always changing, I suppose. This year Costco and Bam Bam’s BBQ cooked a good share of our Thanksgiving feast. It was magical.

  5. Caroline says:

    “This is what happens to me when I start looking around my world. I am dazzled by how much and how colorful and how interesting it all is and cannot imagine how I could ever perceive life to be anything but utterly magical. With or without an entourage.”

    Beautiful, Pandora. I just love your way with words.

  6. EmilyCC says:

    Just lovely, Pandora. I appreciate this glimpse into a future that is likely for me and one that I now feel a little better-prepared to face.

  1. March 31, 2015

    […] culinary-inclined husband. She is a perma-blogger for Exponent.  Her posts can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, and […]

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