Well, the holidays are upon us. I’ve been so busy moving, as I told you last week, that the holidays snuck up on me this year. But wherever we are, my children and I fly to get together to celebrate Thanksgiving. We share the holiday with a few close friends who are with us every year, and some friends who join us because they don’t have other plans that year. My married children sometimes spend it with their in laws, but almost the entire family comes together for Thanksgiving (and everyone is home for Christmas). And even our family from Europe comes to join us. It’s a very special holiday, and what I like best about it and try to focus on is that it’s a holiday meant to celebrate gratitude, and makes us think of what we are thankful for. As in all lives, difficult things and challenges and even some sorrows happen during the year, people we love are no longer with us, and we all face hard moments that are often difficult to be thankful for. But woven into the tapestry of our lives, for all of us, are the joys among the sorrows, the unexpected blessings, the enormous gifts that life gives us as well as the challenges. It’s difficult to be grateful for the ‘hard stuff’, but so important to remember the gifts that life gives us every year, that sometimes go unnoticed, or don’t stand out as sharply as the losses or griefs. We have friends to be grateful for, and our children, our homes, our work, the people who make a day suddenly special, the unexpected tender moments that make life worthwhile. The big things to be grateful for are easy to spot, but there are so many smaller moments that we need to cherish and treasure and be grateful for.
Holidays that are spent alone are incredibly hard, and many people find themselves in lonely situations, far from home and loved ones, or at the end of a relationship, or after a loss of some kind. During this holiday even more than any other, it increases the blessing to reach out and embrace the people who need us, whose holidays are looking bleak and lonely. I am always reminded of the phrase from the Bible, “God places the solitary in families”. It has been true for me, at times when I was alone before I was married and had my children.
The theory about Thanksgiving is that it’s about abundance—-an abundance of food, of blessings, of people gathering to share the holiday. That’s a hard concept to hang onto at times, if you’re without a job, a home, the obvious material blessings in life. But abundance is not just about material blessings, it is about all kinds of abundance in our lives, the richness of our friendships, the opportunities we have, the tiny moments of joy that happen, along with the bigger blessings that are easy to remember and be thankful for.
I am grateful for you, my readers, for my friends and children, for the time I get to spend with them, I’m grateful for the kindness and love of my children, and for their happiness and wellbeing, and the good people in their lives. I am so thankful too for my work, my books, my publishers, editor, agent, researcher and all the people who make my work possible, and you most of all for reading the books and being so faithful.
So at this special time of gratitude, thank you for all that you add to my life, your letters, your reactions, the pleasure you have in reading the books and share with me. You give me so much joy!! I hope that your holiday will be filled with an abundance of everything you wish, and all the tiny and large and even huge blessings to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving and all my love, Danielle
ps. I was just reading the responses to my recent blogs, and saw that Joy understood that we lost our Napa house. I’m sorry if I gave that impression. We were incredibly lucky and the house was spared. The flames were all around us, within a mile of our home on all sides, and miraculously, despite burned twigs and branches and charred pieces of wood all around it, the house didn’t burn. So many, many people lost homes in Napa and Sonoma, and our hearts go out to them. (I believe that 9,000 homes and structures burned, although that number may be old by now). And even more tragically, too many people lost their lives, and the firemen and first responders fought courageously to save people and homes.
As for the photographs that we treasure in that home, the whole history of my children’s lives is in those photos, my youngest son did a foolish but very brave thing during the fire. He drove to Napa, got through to our area, despite the heavy smoke and fires raging everywhere, and he went into the house for twenty minutes, grabbed as many of the framed photos as he could off the walls, threw them into his car, and stayed as long as he could. He said that by the time he left you couldn’t see through the smoke. He brought back several hundred of those photos, which I am having copied now, and I will have all the others copied when we get back to the house. It’s a lesson and reminder to make copies of important photos. It would have been a heartbreaking loss to lose them if we had lost the house. And I’m so grateful we didn’t. I was furious with my son for risking himself and going up there, but it turned out all right in the end. He is MUCH more important than the photographs!!!
Thank you for caring about our home there. And among the blessings I will be thankful for on Thanksgiving, and am every day, I’m so grateful that our home was spared. We are so deeply sorry for those who lost their homes, and even more so for the lives lost. They will remain in our hearts and prayers.