Today is the first major holiday of my life that I will spend entirely alone. The good news is that I have plenty of fine books to read, and the house is warm and peaceful.

The bad news is that I stayed home from our family gathering in D.C. because our dog, Onyx, has been in the hospital all week. I am bringing him home today, and will nurse him the best I can all weekend. He has not eaten in days and has to be on fluids. After a number of (obscenely expensive) tests, the doctors still don’t know what’s wrong with him. Since his symptoms are both digestive and neurological — and since we have been doing a small kitchen renovation in our 1925 house — the prime suspect is now lead poisoning. If that’s the case, the damage already done to his system may be irreversible. We are heartbroken. He is the best and kindest dog I’ve ever known.

So there is a lot to be depressed about today — my pet may be dying; and I am alone and eating mashed potatoes from a plastic package. I am trying to play the Pollyanna game and practice gratitude for all the things I do have, like access to great veterinary care and a host of wonderful friends and family. Even mashed potatoes from a plastic package are a lot better than having no food at all on this day.

I tell myself these things, yet I don’t feel particularly grateful in my heart. I want my dog to be well and jumping up on me when I enter the house. I want my family all together.

This morning I read a wonderful blog post by my friend Sam Barry, who is having some troubles of his own this holiday. I learned from the post that his wife had to go into emergency surgery this weekend. Everything has been upended. I hope you’ll read the whole post, because it’s beautiful, but here is one part that captures perfectly what I am feeling:

When I am really thankful—when the belief that I am in control of the future is shown to be make-believe— the fear that drives the obsession with control recedes in importance, like a game I don’t want to play anymore. I am in awe of the amazing people who have touched my life, changing me forever.  Through them I am connected to a multitude around the world and across generations.

Amen to that. I pray you are having a joyous Thanksgiving.

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