Every year this holiday settles around me bringing memories of pulling on long underwear, tucking toes into two pairs of socks that had yet to be stuffed into snow boots. The mad scrounge for flashlights and missing mittens, the slam of the door behind us, as mom shouts, “Don’t go near the edge of the rock.”
Thanksgiving morning in Macungie, Pennsylvania where pies and turkey got shoved into the oven by my frenzied mom, while my sister and I joined our friends for a dark and cold hike to Sheep’s Rock. We gathered at the Macungie Fire Company, in groggy groups of bundled bodies. One of the Boy Scouts eventually would head toward the mountain trail and we would follow amongst our grumbling groups. Looking ahead it always seemed like a bunch of glow balls had been tossed about as flashlights bounced back and forth to light the path.
We all knew that we had to keep moving to reach our destination before sunrise. Despite tripping over rocks covered by wet leaves, and sliding on the steep sides of the rising trail, we would urge each other on through the darkness. Regardless that scouts had marked the way the day before, it always surprised us as we rounded the bend for the final ascent. We were sure we couldn’t have another push to the top of another curve. Yet soon we found the ropes where we could pull ourselves up with one last hurrah to the solid foundation of the rock.
And there we gathered. On the rock that had stood for years and years above Macungie, overlooking the valley to the small borough below, on a wide, welcoming rock that gave us the opportunity to gaze with gratitude over our community. We would huddle close waiting for the sun to break through and share its warmth with us. We would listen to some words of encouragement and praise from a designated speaker, and then join in prayers and hymns as the sun rose above us.
Thanksgiving morning, I want to pull all those memories around me and settle into this holiday even though I am far away, without the sure foundation of the rock beneath me.
Perhaps the sun shoving its way through our foggy shadows has no idea that I am laying claim to its Thanksgiving glory. It’s shining presence peeks under the spruce trees to uncover the tracks that tell the tale of deer traipsing through our backyard earlier this morning. I think back to when I returned to make the Thanksgiving hike with my sons and husband a few years ago.
After the sunrise service, we were some of the remaining few who slowly departed from the rock. We took our time enjoying the trail in the daylight, discovering what the dark had hidden from us. As we paused to listen for any wildlife moving through the forest, we spotted a deer finding its way through the trees toward the stream. It turned to glance at us, to acknowledge our presence in its home.
Perhaps that is what I am doing this Thanksgiving morning. It isn’t an official holiday here in my Canadian country, but I am acknowledging its presence with me… here in my home.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and family!