“A Telling Moment for T-Day,” Nov. 15, 2016

Every year, when I start my shopping list for Thanksgiving, the same image comes to mind. Maybe you know it. It’s that classic Norman Rockwell illustration of a family sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.

Rockwell was brilliant at capturing the one “telling moment” to convey a common experience. In “Freedom from Want,” it’s the moment when the turkey (perfectly roasted to a golden brown) is presented by the hostess (perfectly poised in a spotless apron) at a table surrounded by smiling guests.

I love that image. Not because it looks like my Thanksgivings. Not even close. But it feels the same _ happy and thankful, the way Thanksgiving ought to feel.

It’s my favorite holiday, my favorite day of the year. But let me say this: I could do without the turkey. And the stuffing. And the green bean casserole.

I’d keep the pumpkin pie, of course. I mean, what would Thanksgiving be without it? But I would gladly skip all the rest, not to mention the shopping, cooking and cleaning up.

The problem with my pumpkin-pie-only plan is I would likely be dining alone. I don’t know how it works at your house, but at mine, people like to eat. Especially at Thanksgiving. We all have our favorite dishes. We all eat different stuff. We eat until we swear we can’t eat another bite. Then we wallow around until we’re ready to eat some more.

Honestly? I love it. I love watching everybody eat and talk and laugh, all at the same time, telling stories, cracking jokes, clinking glasses, scraping plates, a roomful of family and friends being together as one. I love seeing the light in their eyes and feeling the warmth of their arms hanging around my neck.

For me, that’s the payoff, the “telling moment” of the day, the reason for all the shopping and cooking and cleaning up. Being together makes it all worth it.

The best traditions are like the people who observe them. They change, as need be, with time. But I’ve tried my best to keep at least two Thanksgiving rituals.

First, I count my blessings. I do this, not on T-Day when I’m hip-deep in turkey gravy, but in a few quiet moments before I start my shopping list. Beginning with gratitude seems to make everything a bit easier and more worthwhile. Here are five of the many gifts I am thankful for this year:

1. Health and happiness _ my own and that of those I love. My mother used to say you can only be as happy and healthy as your least happy, least healthy child. I am grateful for both.

2. Family and friends. Mine keep growing in number, much to my delight. But the loss of my younger brother this year reminds me that we are not on this earth forever. We need to cherish the moments we share.

3. A roof over my head and a cheerful soul to share it with. To paraphrase a Psalm: Better to live in a hole in the desert than in a palace with a cranky mate.

4. Getting older. I spend less time on my hair and more time on simple pleasures: Sunsets with my husband, cream in my coffee, kissing my grandbabes, long talks with my kids. If I’d known aging was so much fun, I’d have quit fighting it long ago.

5. A job I love doing, most of the time, and readers who make me want to keep doing it, usually.

My second Thanksgiving ritual is another “telling moment” that holds for me the meaning of the day. I set two tables: One in the dining room for those who’ll be with us at dinner; the other in my heart for those who are with us in spirit only, living or long departed, but never forgotten.

I’ll save a place for you at that second table. I hope you’ll do the same for me. We can count our blessings together. Then you can help me clean up.

I’d like that a lot. Maybe next year we’ll just do pumpkin pie.

Here’s wishing you and yours, from me and mine, a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.


  1. happy thanks giving to you Sharon and all family !! I am thanking you from the bottom of my heart for cheering me up when the day was not good. I am thanking you with special honour to day because thanks giving is just one day after. You deserve enough thanks from all readers who love you more every day as thanks giving comes .I also join them as a sincere reader since 4 years forgot since how long, because I found your column from a newspaper Reporter . we still get it free. Every Sunday but your column is missing. But I did request them. I read it here only. Thanks again for your inspiring posts.

  2. A few tears just crept down my wrinkly cheeks as I finished reading this column. Our first Thanksgiving without my son-in-law as well as my father-in-law. Both will be included when I set a place for them in my heart. My father-in-law was a true foodie and I knew whenever he had dinner at my house, the compliments would flow abundantly. His face always gave away his pleasure at a delicious meal. My son-in-law had a most curious appetite but one thing he always preferred at my house was my pumpkin pie. He was okay with his mom’s but he truly relished a slice or two of mine. It always made me feel closer to him. We will miss him this year as we share dessert with my daughter and their twins but I know he will be sharing it vicariously with us…in my heart.

  3. Flying across the U.S. to be with family this Holiday. Dad at 93 is most excited about visiting his daughter, granddaughters and great granddaughters! Even though Mom has been gone several years, he continues the tradition of being with family and what that really means…he sees life thru those rosy pink glasses. Thanks for reminding us of all the blessing we have.

    Happy Turkey Day to you:)

  4. Kate Sciacca says

    Blessings to you and your dear family on this wonderful holiday… my kids have taken over the hosting duties which is just fine and dandy! They clean, prepare, cook and clean some more… I play with the grandkids ?
    And yes, cream in my coffee (heavy cream) – and the same whipped and piled high on my pumpkin pie. God is Good.

  5. natalie prenatt says

    I’m thankful for you, Sharon, and your amazing gift of bringing out the best in all of us, your readers, by reminding us that deep down, we’re all the same, and that we all have a life that is indeed worth living! Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I recent lost my husband to a motorcycle accident. Your columns and the loving arms of God and our family will help me get through the difficult holiday season. I know now that we can all set a special table in our heart snd the memories can be stored there until they don’t hurt.

  7. Davey Myers says

    We remember being at your table at Thanksgiving quite a few years ago. It was filled with wonderful people and great food. The pumpkin pie was ever so yummy. The best part was sharing a special day with you and the whole family. A very nice memory. Thank you Sharon! When will we see that novel? Happy happy Thanksgiving!!! You will be at our second table without a doubt. Love, Davey and Dan

  8. Betty McNall says

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! I will keep you and yours in thought also! This from Me and my Idaho family.

  9. Have a great and lovely Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  10. Naomi Smith says

    Happy Thanksgiving! I read all your columns and enjoy them. Love you. God bless.

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