Raise a Song of Harvest Home

Does anybody remember singing Thanksgiving hymns in church?  “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”?  I’m missing the emphasis on something besides Black Thursday/Friday and shopping.  Thanksgiving seems to disappear between Halloween and Christmas, more glamorous holidays.

One of my friends who has invited me to share Thanksgiving with her family for many years has a great custom.  Her partner offers a blessing over the groaning board and the “hands that prepared it,” and then they go around the table.  Each person has to name something they are grateful for.

Oprah calls it “an attitude of gratitude.”  In a time of irony, entitlement and downright ennui, it’s nice to remember we are, often, lucky in so many ways.  There is plenty of tragedy after Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter–and there is tragedy every single day, sadness and hurt and hunger and despair.

My late boyfriend used to say, with irony, “Well, I didn’t get malaria today.”  Yes, there are people who are richer or happier or more beautiful than we all are.  But there are people who are much worse off.  Let’s try to help someone else this holiday.  And if nothing else, let’s be grateful for the family and friends we overeat with!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Riding Out the Storm With a Friend

My experience of Hurricane Sandy was very different than it would have been because I had a guest.  My friend Caroline came from the Netherlands on the Saturday before the storm came in,  a trip long planned and unable to be changed.  So we rode out the storm together.

We were lucky in that I live on a ridge high above the Hudson River, so flooding was not an issue.  But we could see the lower ground by the river from the glass doors onto my balcony.  On Monday night, Caroline said to me, “I think the river is flooding!”  It was getting dark, and hard to see.  I peered as hard as I could, and said, “I think you’re right!”  The swell rose over 11 feet and washed the boat you see in the photo into the park.  The boat’s name was “Here, There and Everywhere.”

Caroline’s trip was very different from what she had planned.  But she was intrepid.  When bus and limited subway service was restored, she took the bus to the Bronx (1 hour 20 minutes) and then took the subway into the city.  Then after some hours she took the Harlem line train back to White Plains, and I picked her up.  The Hudson line train, which you can see from my window, was not fully back in service until today.

But the nice thing for me was having sympathetic company while the winds raged, the river rose and the rain poured.  We never lost power, there was no flooding on my ridge, and the tall trees did not fall down.  We were very fortunate compared to many.  My heart goes out to those on Staten Island and in New Jersey who lost their lives and their homes.

Things were approaching normal here last night, although there have been long lines to buy gasoline, and many people still do not have power.  I am very grateful that my experience was so easy, and I am glad that Caroline was a calm and patient presence while this amazing event went on.  We ended her trip with a rescheduled trip to the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze at Cortlandt Manor.  So she didn’t miss Halloween entirely, after all.