OK, who else remembers hand turkeys?
I suppose there are sillier questions to start a morning with, like “Which is louder, red or 13?” or “Can the Broncos build a real offensive line?” But then, hand turkeys were kind of a silly thing. If you have a kindergartner, you almost certainly know the drill : trace your hand with a pencil or marker, add a face on one end and boom! Instant turkey.
It still makes me laugh because it’s so easy. You see, in a world filled with brilliant holiday crafters, my skills more or less peaked in grade school. Wrapping paper and I have a notoriously uneasy relationship. My attempts to depict hearts or shamrocks usually look like someone let the air out of them. And the less said about my cooking abilities for any holiday (or at any other time), the better.
But when it comes to hand turkeys, we’re all on a level. If you can draw a steady line, you’re good. Maybe even if you can’t.
It’s a simple, weird ability for a simple, weird holiday.
Yeah, I said it – Thanksgiving’s kind of weird. Nice, but weird. Think about it for a second.
It’s a time for stepping aside in quiet contemplation – whose celebrants then complain because it doesn’t draw the attention that more public holidays like Christmas or Halloween do.
It’s a moment for being grateful for what we have, right before four weeks of being told that we don’t have enough.
It’s a time when really odd traditions have the power to stick. Like being passionately devoted to cranberry sauce shaped like a can. Or listening to (and loving) 18 minutes of Arlo Guthrie. Or paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions in any shape or form.
Most of all, it’s a time to reach out and reach in. Reaching out to a community, especially those often forgotten. Reaching in to those we care about most.
Which means that once again our kindergarten teachers were right. A hand really is the symbol of the season.
And it’s why this Thanksgiving may be especially hard.
This year, we’ve added one more oddity to the list – to reach out by staying back. To show how much we care by keeping our distance.
That’s not easy.
For a lot of us, Thanksgiving is about drawing people close together (even if some of them are then banished to the kids’ table). Even in a normal year, when someone can’t be there – whether for one feast or for a lifetime – it leaves a hole. This year, the holes may well feel like a Swiss cheese. It’s hard to be thankful for what you have when everything inside you is saying there should be more.
But then, gratitude is easy when everything is in abundance. It’s the harder times that test us. Are we truly thankful – or just comfortable?
Is that hand there to provide others with what they need – or just to take what we think we deserve?
Can we show love, and caring, and thought for others even when it’s difficult? Even if it means making a quiet holiday a little quieter?
I think we can. And I think we do it just like the kindergarten teacher showed us.
Make things simple, not complicated.
Hold your hand still.
Draw the line carefully and firmly.
And then put the best face on it that you can.
This isn’t forever. It can be better and it will. But we need patience for now to bring the joy that will come.
This year, it’s all in our hands.