Thankful, II

1 : conscious of benefit received*

Eleanor bowed her head and clasped her hands together. She shut her eyes and concentrated on Larry’s voice—too loud, too boisterous, too everything for this occasion. “For what we are about to receive, let us be thankful,” he said, and if he said anything else, which he probably did—something about having worked the hardest for so many years and how he was entitled (entitled!) to a great feast—Eleanor didn’t hear it. She was too far into her head, replaying all the other Thanksgivings where she sat at this same table with the lace tablecloth, taper candles, and dime-store dishes, when Larry said the same prayer, ate this food, and then sat back, ready to have his girl wait on him hand and foot. This Thanksgiving, she was changing things up.

2 : expressive of thanks

She wasn’t a church-going woman, but that morning, before the bustle of the food preparation had started, Eleanor had sought out the church she’d once attended. The old building was packed to the edges with people, all of them intent on listening to the pastor’s words, hoping that this thankful service would serve as an atonement of sorts for the rest of the year, when thankless was a better word to describe their behavior. Judgmental much? Maybe, but Eleanor included herself in that group of people. She needed to change her ways and appreciate her life and those in it a little bit more, but bad habits—especially those behaviors that had been reinforced for years—were hard to break.

3 : well pleased : GLAD

At dinner, talk shifted to politics, a topic that really needed to stay buried in that house. While each person had a right to think what they wanted to think, she could not wrap her head around Larry’s views. How could he be against abortion but not understand that those same babies who came into the world deserved food, shelter, health care, and the right to live without fear of being shot? How could he say in one breath that everyone deserved equal rights and not understand that not everyone had equal rights? “It’s not the people trying to get into our country who are the problem,” she’d told him, stacked with an armful of articles. “It’s the people inside, like you, who think that you’re superior based on the color of your skin.” Larry had blanched a bit at her words, but in the end, it didn’t matter what Eleanor said: Larry’s views were Larry’s views; he was right and she was wrong. So when he suggested that she get up and do the dishes, she was thankful that he didn’t follow her as she placed her napkin on the kitchen counter, grabbed her coat, and walked out the door.**

*The three definitions are taken from Merriam-Webster. I’m thankful that they are so accessible.

**I’m also thankful for Ben Berman, whose newest work, Then Again, partially inspired this post. He’s much more adept at this form of writing, but I read his collection a little while ago. In it, he played with words and connections: each individual piece was broken into sections that revolved around the different meanings of one word. Those pieces then connected to the other pieces in the book. Brilliant, if you ask me. Then Again publishes on the 27th of this month.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from

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