Giving thanks is a good thing. Many theologians believe that is humanity’s only purpose in life. Not sure where I stand on that right now because I believe God made us more than that. I do know I don’t celebrate the destruction of the Native American communities. Of course, if the Native Americans had not saved the white people of that long ago time, my family probably would not be here. Most of my descendants came over in the 17th century.

While I am thankful this year, I cannot say I am happy. This is the first Thanksgiving in eleven years without my wife by my side. At first, I planned on hiding out in the condo. Part of me still wishes for the solitude of grief. The other part however wants to embrace the family and friends who still love me and who are still here

Birdie looking for deer.

for me and Birdie. Birdie of course is thankful and happy. As long as she can go with, that dog is happy.

If Birdie could drive she would. She wouldn’t leave me either I bet. I know she is thankful for me. Birdie is also thankful for this condo. She even makes me smile when we come in from a walk and she runs hard as she can in the small space. She then encourages me to play and be happy with her. She knows we are safe here and that this is our new place.

A safe place to live was my goal. Once it was clear that my wife wanted a long separation, I had to find a place to live that was affordable, safe, and quiet that also accepted a small dog.

Quiet is as much for healing as it is for sanity. Here on the mountain, there is plenty of solitude. At first I thought I might have moved to a ghost town, but I moved here at the end of the summer tourist season. I look forward to ski season. They are already making snow at Beech Mountain Ski Resort.

When we returned from my book reading the other day, Beech Mountain had a nice covering of snow. It was both exciting and scary. I was thankful that the roads were clear since I haven’t gotten snow tires yet. When we made it to the condo, Birdie was excited to see the snow even though the temperature was at 28 and we didn’t have her coat.

Thankfulness can come from many places in our hearts, our lives, our work. Just because a holiday happens doesn’t mean we won’t grieve the loss of loved ones. Whether we lose someone dear because of death, separation, divorce, moving away, loss is hard and grief inevitable. As I go to my family’s tomorrow, I plan to talk to them about my sadness while also enjoying my time with them. The thing is, life is short. My ex (it still feels weird to say that) knows that I am thankful for her. In an email regarding something else, we expressed our mutual gratitude. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard or sad.

We can be thankful regardless of our emotions for gratitude is acknowledgement of a gift. Whether it’s the gift of a dog’s presence or solitude matters not. Gifts are not those things bought at the store in a holiday rush. The true gifts are those things around us like nature, family, friends, work, love, play. Those are the things that make life worth living. I am thankful that I have a life worth living.

Valle Crucis across from Holy Cross Episcopal Church