Dear Shaina,

I loved your Sukkot letter about planting seeds and being grateful for the everyday harvests you reap. Thanksgiving, which is just around the corner, gives us yet another opportunity to express our gratitude for the bounty in our lives. The house will be stuffed with family and friends enjoying old traditions and trying a few new ones. I am looking forward to the focused cooking, eating and talking…and the leftovers.

I have a lot to do before then and am a little panicked about getting it all done. Being away for a month really put a dent in my streamlining-the-clutter plans. Getting back into a routine is no easy feat for a retired person who operates on an as-needs basis with no demands and few obligations. The post-renovation mess and chaos that I left behind at home over a month ago hasn’t budged a bit and is screaming loudly for my undivided attention.

With out-of-town family coming in and lots of friends invited over, Thanksgiving is my deadline. Deadlines are a great motivator! I have already packed up several bags to take to the shelter. I reward myself by allowing myself to cook something for Thanksgiving after I go through a closet or pack up a box to give away. You could say I am actually killing two birds with one stone (forgive the bad Thanksgiving pun) by cleaning and cooking.

I am starting with soups because they can be frozen and easily resurrected. I always make mushroom-barley soup plus another soup. This year it will be butternut squash and corn soup. Our neighbor showed up with some excess butternut squash from his garden, and I couldn’t help but pause my cleaning and start cooking.

The day after Thanksgiving is actually my favorite time. Any cleaning up that wasn’t accomplished has been seen and gone unnoticed by all the guests. The frenetic preparation and management of the day is over. The food tastes better. The conversations are more meaningful. And the everyday blessings are illuminated. The satisfying exhaustion that invades my body the day after allows me the luxury of sitting back and taking it all in. There are so many blessings to be counted (kenahora-pu-pu-pu to keep the evil eye away!). I may just sit around all day long counting them! See you soon!