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Thanksgiving will be quieter at my house

The world is loud, a clanging gong and noisy cymbal, especially lately.

Even in Southern Oregon, mental and actual noise seizes the day, drowning out rain (bless it), birdsong, or a breeze brushing through the evergreens. Clamor seems to irk me more every year, and I will not go into that dark, crotchety place. I mute commercials (unless it’s the Geico clogging ad), wear earplugs to bed, and curse mildly when my neighbor’s dog goes on a barking tear. At least my hearing seems sound.

The highway in front of my house, which used to be a quiet roadway back in the horse-and-buggy days when I first moved here, swarms with cars, semis, tractors, mopeds and trucks with clanky, clattery trailers from dawn to dusk. I take my life in my hands just crossing the street to talk with my neighbor, Laurie. And heaven help any undereducated cat or squirrel or chicken who dares to maneuver to the other side. Many a flattened gray squirrel thought it could make it. Let’s see, where am I going with this? Oh, yes.

It’s Thanksgiving. Each year when it hearkens ‘round, I trod the backroads in my imagination to former festivals of family and food. To the turkeys who wandered far and near in a semi-arid climate but could find no room in the inn, so we had them for dinner. I may be mixing my holiday metaphors a bit, but life moves so fast these days that one holiday runs smack into the behind of the one exiting. Our humble day of gratitude barely has the pie crust crumbs swept from the table before Black Friday pounces.

So, the world is loud and fast and blingy and obnoxious, especially over holidays, when it might be an especially good time to mute the chaos. If you watch television, listen to podcasts and splash in the waters of the latest social media font, mental noise mounts to a fever pitch most days. I know because I’m there in the midst. It’s a hard habit to break. Silence can be deafening.

This Thanksgiving will be quieter for many of us. No elbowing one another in the kitchen with a cask of green bean casserole and spilling hot gravy. No raucous shouts over a loud football game (I make no promises). No elbow-to-elbow adult table. No kids’ table. No pets’ table. For love’s sake, we’re holding things to a grateful whisper this year.

It will be quiet at my house. I remember one year I shoehorned 10 fully grown people around my dining table in a small, closed-in dining room. I still don’t know how I did it. Trouble was, we barely fit before the feast, but afterward a few receptive ones had to be airlifted out by a personal-sized crane. It was awkward. Come Thursday, my friend, Lynn, and her granddaughter, Renee, will join me, spaced out at that same table, with megaphones at each place setting. Though it sets Lynn’s teeth on edge, we have opted to not knock ourselves out by making the most demanding meal of the year between the two of us. We placed an order with good old Cracker Barrel, which I will retrieve. It will include our favorites and one dish we’ve never tried, a cheesy squash casserole, which we will not have to share with the 14-year-old. There will be wine and sparkling cider, sincere gratitude and peace.

Yes, the most incongruous day of 2020 has arrived — the lone day officially sanctioned for giving thanks. Are we able this year? We’ve all suffered to some extent, and good often comes in ugly packages, like a startlingly clear appreciation for the wealth of life that remains. If near-misses from fire and virus don’t elicit gratefulness, you’re not paying attention. If something of those losses is on your plate this year, you have a community that cares and help available.

This year I hold my blessings closer and thank God for each one. May we listen and savor the peace of a sincere holiday.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.