Next week’s paper comes out Thanksgiving Day, when I and my colleagues — and I hope all of our readers — will be indulging in the annual turkey feast in grateful celebration of 1) the early settlers of our country 2) the indigenous people who initially befriended them 3) the abundance of our lives or 4) all of the above.

So far as I’m aware, while football has latterly become associated with the day, there is no official connection between the two. So feel free not to watch any — I know I intend to exercise that option.

If, however, you are willing and able, and can recruit a few like-minded folk to join you, you may want to engage in a spot of the gridiron game yourself. Much healthier (especially in the touch version) than sitting passively before what we used to call the “boob tube.”

If the weather cooperates, I will probably go out for a walk sometime during the day. The older of my nephews is coming to dinner that day, and will spend a couple of days with us. I hope he arrives early enough to walk up the blueberry barren with me.

Being primarily a food holiday, Thanksgiving has escaped the worst of the commercialism that has overtaken Christmas. It is a welcome chance to bring out treasured old recipes and to try enticing new ones. Never really liked Aunt Hazel’s creamed spinach? Plunge into the wealth of recipes online to find something that pairs perfectly with Grandma’s sweet potato casserole.

For most of us, turkey is an essential ingredient of Thanksgiving dinner, but preparation methods have burgeoned over the last decade or so. Air-fried, brined, roasted or whatever, it’s hard not to like turkey.

The main thing is getting family, whether biological, family of choice or some combination, around the table to savor being together. That’s what makes the day special (and, admittedly, sometimes awful). This year it will feel especially good to have my nephew with us, because we had to celebrate without company last Thanksgiving, when COVID vaccines were still a tantalizing promise and avoiding each other was the main tactic available to tamp down the virus’ spread.

It seems especially appropriate that at this time of the year, when the darkness closes in, the weather gets cold and we’re facing the long slog through winter, there is a holiday whose theme is gratitude.

Gratitude is most potent when we feel that things could be going better. When you have a flat on the side of the road and it’s raining and you’re going to be late for dinner, but then the tow truck turns up and the driver is cheerful and businesslike and has you on your way in a (relative) jiffy. When the days have more hours of darkness than light and you’re not sure the Christmas presents you ordered (even though they were overpriced) are going to arrive on time, and then here comes Aunt Hazel with that damned creamed spinach, but she’s so glad to see you that you’re glad to see her, too, and the spinach graces the table for another year.

Gratitude reminds us that our wealth, our good fortune, are very much matters of perception. So I don’t have a mansion on Penobscot Bay? I have an inspiring view of a blueberry barren from my deck. No pate de foie gras with truffles for my hors d’oeuvres? Cheese and crackers taste great, especially when shared with a nephew who has driven five or six hours to share them with me.

I hope your Thanksgiving table is full of the foods that make the holiday special for you, and surrounded by people you love. May your heart be warmed by the blessing of gratitude.

Republican Journal Editor Sarah E. Reynolds is a longtime employee of Courier Publications.

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