We meet for dinner on Friday nights almost without exception. We’re the oldest of friends — alike in a lot of ways, but very different in the rest, though the differences have never caused a problem.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be the model for a world order? Settle things over Friday night dinners, and what can’t be settled between us agree to just move on from there. We make no room for hate, don’t like bullies, but aren’t particularly patient with sissies and or whiners. Our charge is to do what we can, give a lot of try and have a lot of faith; know when to say “please,” “thank you,” if it’s time to talk or time to walk away.
But Friday, with our tea glasses refilled, Cheryl asked, “Have you written your column yet?”
“No,” I said, surprised to think, knowing me, she would have thought it was done.
“Do you have your topic?” Cheryl’s a ninth-grade English teacher. She knows a little about process, and planning, sifting and separating; but she knows me and has had enough students to know that beyond all the getting ready, there’s that absolute moment when there’s nothing left to do but sit down and get it done.
“It’s Thanksgiving,” I said with a genuine smile. “It will be about being thankful, because I am, and I hope we all can be.”
It is good. All I need is a beginning, a middle and an end, and 245 words in, I guess you could say I’ve already begun.
I am thankful that I have the heritage and family tradition of being thankful. I am thankful for blessings of family, food and shelter; of time and space; friends; kindnesses great and small; the grand opportunity to give and ample provisions to partake.
I am thankful that in 1892, my great grandparents WHG (Griggs) and Nancy Shirey Chambers came to Brown County to make their home, along with Griggs’ mostly-grown seven siblings and their parents. And proud and thankful I will be to be among those this Thanksgiving gathering in Zephyr to celebrate the annual Chambers’ family reunion. The tradition began in 1937 after Griggs, widowed for 12 years and just remarried, invited his nine children and their families to his and his new wife’s home in Mullin. Gathered there, they feasted together and visited until hurt feelings were healed, silences were given words, anger was soothed, petty disagreements were mended and the family united in its new form.
Forgiveness — given or accepted — is a great gift to be cherished. I found this and copied it just the other day. “Don’t let a season in your life define your lifetime.”
This year hasn’t been a particularly easy one, but I found when I was in the strongest grips of the roughest situations if I could stop for a moment, I invariably could retrieve, I found those moments of calm and assurances of hope. I received gifts of wisdom in the most unlikely of places, and those little realizations of certain truths have steadied my world. I am grateful for those.
A friend in my Bible study sent me this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote — “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else. And for everything you gain, you lose something else.” In the particular meme my friend sent, the editorial statement was added that in our lives’ outlook, we have the choice to rejoice or regret.
I am thankful that when I had a choice to make, I could find silver linings, pieces of peace to pass my limited understanding. I am thankful to for the lessons of grace, patience and love. Regrets don’t anchor me to a sinking point that the things I find to be joyful about don’t lift me. I am indeed fortunate.
Saturday will be the four-year anniversary of my packing all my earthly belongings into a 20-foot truck and moving from Brownwood to San Angelo. I thank God every day for giving me the courage to do that; what I needed to grow; and a way that I could be of the most use.
I do miss the ways, people and friends of Brownwood, but I don’t consider them lost and could never forget them.
But my greatest joy is being where I am, with family who needs me — and I them.
Thanksgiving is a good time to be thankful for what was, what is and what surely can be.
Be blessed with thankfulness.
Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, now living in San Angelo. Her weekly columns are published Sundays in the Brownwood Bulletin and Thursdays in the San Angelo Standard-Times and are unique for each paper. She can be reached at email@example.com.