DALTON >> "We give Thee thanks for all Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord. Amen."
This is the simple grace before meals recited by Catholic grammar school students every one of my nine years at St. Charles' School, and by many more people over the decades. It is certainly appropriate to ponder these words in the November days before Thanksgiving. I will add some special thanks for the gifts I have already received this month, only some of which were in the form of food.
Recently we spent time with our younger son in Indianapolis, and most days we shared at least one meal. Sharing supper with loved ones always improves the dining room atmosphere as well as the taste of the food.
Sharing meals with now-grown children forges another link in the continuum of family dining begun when there were high chairs in the kitchen, bibs, and horribly bland food served with impossibly small utensils. Now it seems I'm the one who needs the bib, and I will admit to eating tiny cups of yogurt with a well-worn Big Bird spoon.
Mostly, we all eat with regular-sized utensils and the choices of food are incredibly spicier and more varied. Beer and wine is often consumed at these special gatherings, so they are truly festive and free-wheeling. This month in particular, I am thankful for bison meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes, spumoni, and good red wine, eaten at table with Mike and Meg. I am likewise grateful for pumpkin bread, Polish cookies with an unpronounceable name, and lots and lots of hot coffee to go with everything.
This month I am also grateful for cheaper gas prices, travel guides, and automotive service centers. When we encountered a major malfunction of the car's electrical system while driving through the middle of Ohio on a Saturday afternoon, we were fortunate enough to find an open car dealership with technicians on hand to diagnose the problem. Because the car could not be fixed until Monday, we were offered the loan of a brand new sedan so we could get to Indiana on time for our hotel reservation and dinner at a reasonable hour.
There are many kind, helpful, and generous folks in the Midwest, but we'll never forget Andrew at Dennis Hyundai of Dublin, Ohio, who worked extra hard to save our vacation. Thank you, Andrew.
All along the way to Indiana and back, we continued our ceaseless search for treasures at antique shops and thrift stores. I think every town along the interstate highway system has a billboard or two advertising the local antique mall. Many are too large to be manageable, but we found one that was "just right" in Greenfield, IN,. located on the main street, just up from an impressive stone county courthouse.
Spending an afternoon in a small town gives you an appreciation for all that is right with ordinary people living their lives in ordinary places.
Finally, we added several more stores to the list of Goodwill Industries' locations we have visited. There are 10 in Indianapolis alone, as well as shops run by other charitable institutions. We shop there often, looking for books, household goods, and gently worn men's shirts which I turn into stylish aprons. Where else could I find an Eddie Bauer shirt for two dollars?
Shopping the thrift shops is a great way to support various charities. In Indy, there was a lovely shop called "Thrifty Threads" which raises money to support citizens struggling with cancer. It was just down the block from a used book store where we spent another happy half hour. I am always thankful for finding treasures, especially ones which had been previously enjoyed by someone else.
Yesterday, today, tomorrow, and especially on Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful for all the gifts I have received, as well as the bounty of food I will enjoy soon with my loving family.