Published 11/14/2007
by Eddy Robey M.A.
  Issue: 8.10
e-mail me

In the United States, this is a month to celebrate gratitude at the dinner table. Those of us fortunate enough to have loving relatives will gather them around us for the annual feast. Some "families" will be composed of friends who are kin in spirit if not by birth. There will be many who, having nobody near and dear at hand, will gather in public places for turkey sandwiches and the temporary fellowship of football fans. Blessedly, there will also be people who work holiday shifts and volunteer to serve Thanksgiving meals to those who would otherwise go hungry, because of poverty or being unable to cook for themselves.

It is often difficult to relax amid the holiday bustle, and allow gratitude to enter our beings. Getting ready for Thanksgiving usually means cleaning house, peeling potatoes, and planning activities for the rest of the four day weekend. Although we seem to find time for reading the sale advertisements, somehow we are too pushed for writing G-d a thank you note to be read aloud before the big meal.

Those notes are often assigned, however, to be written and read by children. Adults, too often, merely listen and applaud with pride, rather the humility which would be more appropriate. Youngsters are often reminded of how fortunate they are. Perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that they are reproached for a lack of gratitude. This usually has something to do with their failing to be grateful for Brussels sprouts at dinner whilst children starve in some other place.

During my girlhood, the children were starving in China, or so I was told. My plan to deal with them and the hated greenery was simple, and one which was done by many. A few days after it's implementation, a terrible stench arose from the closet where a box containing food to be sent where it would be wanted was stored. Honestly, I could not imagine another child who would be glad to get the stuff, but I was truly grateful that they existed, because they would give me a good reason to not consume whatever was unappetizing.

Many years later, there would be a reason for thoughts of gratitude and Brussels sprouts to coexist in my mind. By then I was the mother of a small boy whose favorite vegetables were beets and Brussels sprouts. Of course, I was thankful to be his mom, no matter what he ate. I still am.

That brings me up to the current holiday, which will be one of particular rejoicing.

My boy has just returned from a two week trip Russia for an athletic competition. For several days, I had been unable to get through to him by phone, but was not terribly concerned about the non-English-speaking personnel, figuring he'd call soon. Then, I heard a story on the news about a bus bombing in Togliatti, where the meet was being held. It is beyond my powers as a writer to describe the terror I felt. I called the hotel Rus, where the operator would say, "Nyet, nein, no," then hang up.

G-d bless my Armenian dentist, who speaks Russian, and was kind enough to immediately make a call, then let me know my son was safe. A few hours later, he called himself to reassure me that he was fine despite two bombings. Two? How scared can a mom get? I was to learn more.

The last few days of his journey were spent in Moscow. During that time, there was a day of demonstrations, one of which included more than two thousand people marching whilst they shouted, "Death to the Jews." He had been right next to those marchers, but was safe, and even brought me a calendar from the Moscow shul he visited immediately afterward to say thanks.

This year, my table will not forget the many reasons for gratitude. It seems just yesterday that we were gathered around to say Dayenu on another holiday. Perhaps, we will say it again this November. Any of our blessings would have been enough, but there are always more.

Thank you, G-d.

< Click icon to print page
Back to:
The Gantseh Megillah
Designed by Howard -

subscribe (free) to the Gantseh Megillah.
A  print companion to our online magazine