November stirs up all sorts of emotions, mainly those where I’m sitting at a decorated dinner table watching a golden turkey be carved down into juicy slabs.

Thanksgiving, for me, is a warm home full of guests. It’s the blonde stairs of my sister’s home back in New York and the leather chair my father once sat in. It’s the television turned down while we gossip about life and how the weather is so dreary. Rain trickles from the roof steadily, keeping us all inside.

And some years later, it’s my husband and I tackling the turkey for the first time. I’ve got ear warmers on and fleece-lined tights, wool socks. I’ve found a recipe online and we’re giving it our best shot, letting the glow of the oven warm our faces. It is dozens of degrees into the negatives and it’s our first holiday without family. 

Then mom is at the table along with a friend who’s too far from home. We use the same recipe and we make it even better. There is warmth and laughter and decadent dessert. And who knows what this year’s holiday will look like? The point is to not focus on how things used to be or how many people will come or how your new job won’t allow for you to go above and beyond. The point, rather, is to dig deep for gratitude and hold close to it when you find it. 

This fall I’m thankful to still have our chocolate lab. There’s a shadow that’s been following around my joyous times with her, watching her leap and bound down the driveway and run in the opposite direction of the mid-air ball. She isn’t the young pup she once was and I’m just grateful that I get to hear her snoring on the bed, where she spends all of her time these days. So long as she’s somewhere near our turkey, looking for a handout, there is happiness in my heart.