ALL ABOARD | A gravy ladle full of thanks for family and friends

Last night I was reading some poetry shared with me by a friend. One bit of prose that caught my eye was written by John Greenleaf Whittier, a Quaker poet who fervently advocated the abolition of slavery.

Miss Margaret Reid, my high school English teacher during my senior year, would be smiling that I read Whittier last night without being forced.

I recall her talking about the Fireside Poets; Whittier, Longfellow, James Cullen Bryant, James Russell Lowe and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

This five-pack of philosophers was termed “The Fireside Poets” because they were the first American poets to gain notoriety, causing us school kids to memorize and recite many of their popular poems instead of those by British poets.

Near the end stanza of “Maud Muller,” Whittier’s poem about a married judge who looks with longing at the comely wench he did not marry, he speculates: “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’”

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.

For me, Thanksgiving does not come with the pressures of Christmas. Thanksgiving does not require cards, gifts or decorations.

Thanksgiving does not require weeks of parties and Tums.

Thanksgiving in our house always meant good things like Mom’s fine china and the first time of the year that she used the gravy ladle.

My first Thanksgiving memories include those special visits to Ohio by our Mississippi and Missouri grandparents.

Nobody could say grace at Thanksgiving quite like Grandpa Freeman, with his booming southern Baptist preacher voice ricocheting off the dining room walls.

No wonder he didn’t need a microphone for his Sunday sermons.

Of course, as Vice President-elect Biden and I both know, there were no church microphones back then.

Reading Whittier last night reminded me that during my lifetime I have always been a bit late with telling others how much they mean to me. In many cases, the people I have loved the most and the longest left this planet before I told them.

This Thanksgiving I intend to make certain that my family and friends know how important and precious each of them is.

Not only to me, but to others.

In fact, if you are reading this right now, or even later than now, I thank you.

Thanks for being you.

Thanks for getting up every morning to do what you do.

Thanks for sharing your creativity and individuality.

Thanks for your gift of self.

Thanks for your smile.

Thanks for your heart.

Thanks for your giving.

And if you feel like it someday, thanks for that parking space you let the other guy have or the door you opened for the lady at the post office or for the tip you left after someone else left theirs.

The more I think about it, what difference does it make what might have been?

Look at what is and have a glorious, delicious, gravy ladle-filled Thanksgiving.