Eating the milkman’s horse and other Thanksgiving tales

It’s Thanksgiving weekend. This holiday, more than any other, makes me think of and miss my mom. She was born in 1930 in Germany. The deprivations and horrors of Hitler’s regime and the Second World War filled her childhood and teenage years. For good and for ill, those experiences shaped my mother.

Although we were a poor family, my mother always managed to put on a lavish Thanksgiving dinner. Every inch of the table would be covered with dish after delicious dish of turkey, stuffing, vegetables, potatoes, sauces and gravies followed by at least three desserts.

My mother would sit beaming at the head of the table and survey everything that was on offer. And then she would say, “We have so much to be thankful for. During the war, we never had enough to eat. I remember serving my father horsemeat once. He didn’t ask where I had gotten the meat and I didn’t tell him. The milkman’s horse had died and I was there to get some.”

At that point in her story, she’d stop and stare off into the distance, remembering the serendipitous moment when she got a portion of a dead horse. And then she would resume, “Now look at all that we have. We have enough food. We have a roof over our heads. We are safe in our beds at night. We are so lucky.”

And we are.thankful.png

Here’s a list of some of the very simple things in life I’m thankful for. Perhaps some of these will resonate with you or spur you to consider your own list of gratitudes.

  • A shower after a hot, dirty, sweaty day
  • Bright winter days so cold the snow squeaks
  • Travelling – all the new places, faces, smells, sights, foods and sounds that challenge, delight, intrigue and excite
  • Those first green shoots in the garden. After months of Canadian winter, they are a thrill and a promise.
  • Ringing church bells
  • Reading poetry. Here’s my favourite poem.
  • The smell of tomato plants in the sun
  • Philosophical debates
  • Ghost stories
  • Pine trees – the way they smell, their wooden, fractal-inspired cones and their deep moan on windy nights
  • Songs from the ’80s. I was a teenager then and no music is more evocative for me.
  • The first cup of coffee in the morning.
  • Skeletons and skulls… they’re always grinning!
  • Really good shoes – especially red ones.
  • No alarm clocks. I love a morning where I don’t have to be up by a certain time even if I rarely sleep in.
  • Nuzzling the warm little nape of a baby’s neck and smelling that baby smell.
  • Kindness – more and more this is the trait I respect and admire and want to emulate.
  • The full moon
  • A big cozy chair, a drink, a great book, likely a kitty snuggled in my lap and time to read.
  • Thunderstorms
  • Cooking and baking – it’s like magical alchemy right in my kitchen
  • Fancy soaps, especially handmade soaps
  • Animals. They amaze me with their sheer variety, beauty, Zenlike purpose, abilities and authenticity.
  • Champagne cocktails
  • Dawn – still and stirring, promising a fresh start
  • Frogs singing on a hot summer night
  • Getting into a freshly made bed – the sheets crisp and clean. Ahhhh!

So how about you? What are you thankful for?

2 thoughts on “Eating the milkman’s horse and other Thanksgiving tales

  1. Loved reading your post. It certainly puts things into perspective when at the end of the day while the day may have been a stinker of a day, it doesn’t compare to Europe during the second World War.

    The things that I am thankful for are:
    – a home though small it has everyone I love near and dear to me in my home.
    – a full fridge
    – cuddles from my girls
    – bonfires
    – a hot cup of tea
    – snowy days where you don’t have to go anywhere but you can enjoy Mother Nature while inside a warm cozy house
    – family dinners
    – pedicures
    – smell of bread baking
    – crisp fall nature walk

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Thanks, Colleen! I read your list to my friend as we were driving to a Thanksgiving fundraiser. We agreed that we love your list and agree with everyone one of your items. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and your heart stays grateful.

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