The dogs are a little subdued this morning. They get that way when my wife is not at home. We have our routines, and the dogs make sure we stick to them. Remove my wife and suddenly chaos beckons. But it is Thanksgiving, and if the dogs had longer memories, they would realize that she spends the night before Thanksgiving at her sister's, helping to make ready the feast with which we mark another year.
I have much for which to be thankful, an embarrassment of riches, in fact. I have my health, a home, my law firm and bookstore are, if not profitable, at least not yet driven to the auction block. In a time of economic distress, I realize these alone mark me as fortunate. But I have so much more for which to be grateful. I have love, and that gift, given to me so freely, is the gift for which I give thanks today.
My wife and I married the day before Thanksgiving many years ago. We spoke on the phone about it earlier today; we're not sure just how many years ago. After a point, you stop counting; we're lifers in one another's arms. The years pass now so quickly, I strain to avoid contemplating the fear about what will happen when our time ends. Carpe diem, I say; as often as possible. Today is a day about an anniversary that has come to define the limits of my hopes and dreams. So I say thank you to my wife, who, as always, will go unnamed on this page. She may read this; she may not. It is enough for me to look toward the skies with a sense of wonder when I contemplate the good fortune that brought us together.
And there's yet more for which to give thanks today. Our border collies, Odysseus and Penelope, were born six years ago on a Thanksgiving day. We don't track the exact date. We simply view these newest members of our pack as tumbling into the world on Thanksgiving. Each year I sing them the birthday song. They bark in response.
Dogs are a great joy, as anyone who has fallen head over heels for one will tell you. I cannot explain the mysterious bond that unites us. We did not acquire these two until after our last of three children had left for college. We had plenty of love left to give, and enjoy the land on which we live. Sharing it with animals seemed only natural.
Six years later our heads are still spinning. The dogs run a tight pack. From the moment we get out of bed until we put them to bed for the night, they are a constant presence. It takes getting used to. Arise from a chair, and Penny is immediately at your side, with wide searching eyes and an inquisitive look. Any statement in the form of a question, whether directed toward her or others, causes her head to tilt. She is eager to know and to please. She studies us intently. Each night at dinner, she awaits the sound of my knife or fork falling on to a plate and the scrape of my chair as I push back from the table. In an instant she comes running from where ever she had been to leap into my lap, flip on to her back, place her head beneath my chin and sit for a tummy rub. Don't let anyone ever tell you border collies aren't lap dogs.
Ody is more of a philosopher. He is constantly on the prowl outside, scouting the fields for deer, hawks, voles, woodchucks, and whatever else saunters and leaves a sent. He always comes when we call. In the morning, he sits, rear end almost nailed to the floor, and stares right through me. He needs to have his head patted. In a moment he too flips on to his back for a tummy rub. He is far larger than Penny; I sometimes sense something like longing when he sees her on my lap. In truth, he just doesn't fit. So I must come to him, as he stretches on a couch or the floor. He is all boy, and I love him for it.
These are gifts I have today and every day. I am reminded in the quiet of the morning that today, this season, represents the time perfect bits of joy fit themselves into my life. I share them today for no reason other to pause and give thanks. It is something I should do far more often.