By the time this appears in print, Artemis will be flying by the moon.
I’m not sure I ever expected to write those words.
NASA has literally been away from the moon longer than I’ve been alive. Not that we’ve utterly forsaken space, of course. Satellites guide our communications and report our weather. Telescopes like the Webb increase our knowledge and our wonder. We’ve seen Earth orbit used for research, for music, even for tourism.
But we haven’t been back to our nearest neighbor since the early ‘70s. Truth is, until recently, we haven’t even had the tools to try.
Now, crewed by dummies (fill in your favorite celebrity joke here), the Artemis I Orion capsule is about to pull within 81 miles of the moon. In astronomical terms, that’s practically buzzing the tower. It’s exciting stuff.
So naturally, it’s being overshadowed by more terrestrial headlines.
Mind you, I get it. I know we’re capable of paying attention to multiple things at once. And when Twitter is on fire, politics are in upheaval, rivers are drying up and the Broncos can’t seem to find the end zone with a map, I know that our mental space is a little crowded.
As a result, quiet wonder has a way of being pushed out of the spotlight by louder events. Which sounds familiar. Especially now.
After all, it’s pretty much how we treat Thanksgiving.
Aside from a pretty good parade and a pretty bad football game, we don’t give Thanksgiving a lot of splash. Honestly, that’s probably the way it should be. It’s a more introverted holiday, one about appreciating what we have and who we can share it with. For some, it’s even a time to remember those with less, reaching to them as part of the human family.
It’s a core that’s quiet. Reflective. Even humbling.
And therefore, it has absolutely no chance against occasions with brighter lights, louder music and more sheer STUFF.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that magical December time and tend to push out holiday columns by the bushel. But it’s a bulldozer, running over everything like reindeer flattening an Elmo & Patsy grandma. Christmas shouts. Thanksgiving whispers.
That doesn’t make it any less valuable. But it does mean we have to look a little harder to see beyond the stuffing. (Mmm, stuffing.) Especially in challenging times, when a holiday about gratitude may feel less than fitting.
Hold onto it. However you can.
With a quiet holiday, you get to be the one that finds the meaning. Your gratitude doesn’t have to be anyone else’s. It can be for much or for little, for what you’ve received or what you’ve escaped. It might even be for just making it one more hour of one more day. However you do it, you’re not doing it wrong. (And if someone says you are, one of the things you can be grateful for is that you’re not them.)
It doesn’t have to be a Hollywood production. In fact, given how Hollywood often treats Thanksgiving – turkey with a side dish of strife and conflict – it probably shouldn’t be. Just take the moment, however you need to, and find whatever light you can.
It may not sound like much. Just one small step.
But if you’re in the right space, one small step can be a heck of a leap.
And that’s no moonshine.