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Thankful for 'healthy wrinkles'

Nov 27, 2013 - By Betty Starks Case

That's what I am during this time of gratitude for material things that bless our bodies, and the family and friends who bless our spirits.

On Thanksgiving Day, will we give thanks for blessings, miracles and serendipity?

Or name the good stuff a fluke, dumb luck or coincidence?

It's a matter worthy of consideration. Maybe even a fun subject for discussion around your food-laden table.

You've probably heard the declaration of Albert Einstein that "There are only two ways to live your life: Either nothing is a miracle, or everything is a miracle."

This philosophy could require some analysis. You may decide Einstein isn't as smart as you once thought. Or assume life might hold wonder and surprises if you watched for them.

At Pheasant Crest Farm where we lived for nine years, I named our gazebo "Serendipity Hut." And yes, I expected the unexpected to happen there.

It did.

Because my mate and I purchased that country place from my parents, extended family all saw it as "home." When we issued invitations in the form of "Y'all come," some let us know they'd attend. Others didn't get around to it. Like my mother, I somehow knew all would be fed.

On one particular Thanksgiving, Ned put both leaves in the dining table to stretch it to its limit. I set the table with my best tablecloth, china and silver, for 10.

Soon more cars arrived. Ned brought the little, blue, wrought iron table and chairs in from the deck. I grabbed a small kitchen tablecloth and set the table for six more.

Another car drove in. We set up the wobbly card table and folding chairs.

Everyone was seated cozily around our thrice-extended table and beginning to eat when we heard whispers, then rumblings and snickers from the card table.

"It's easy to see where you fit in this family," announced a sister seated there.

"Yeah. If we'd been any later, we'd have had to sit on the floor and lap our dinner from the dog dish," agreed a brother across from her.

Everyone stopped eating.

"What in the world are you two talking about?" I asked.

"Just look at these tables," said my sister. "The dining table is set with china and silver. Table number two is set with Corelle dishes and stainless steel utensils. Table number three reduces you yet another notch, to plastic."

As they explained, elaborated and fabricated, we all joined in the laughter until tears ran down our cheeks and we scarcely knew what we were eating.

We recalled another Thanksgiving meal, this one hosted by our mother nervously attempting to get her large family seated.

Mother hovered around the table for some time arranging and rearranging chairs.

Finally, someone counted place settings and said, "Mama, that's never going to work. You're short one chair!"

Mama's dimples danced. She found it as funny as anyone, though the joke was mostly on her.

After that, whenever one of us saw the other trying to do the impossible, we'd ask, "Are you sure you aren't just rearranging chairs?"

But this is not all about family. Others can and do lend light to our Thanksgiving stories.

Eating out one such holiday, we chatted with a pretty American Indian girl waiting tables to earn money for college.

Noting my then-dark hair and eyes and high cheek bones, she asked, "Might you be part Indian?"

"My mother says to her knowledge my heritage does not include Indian blood." I said.

When the young waitress returned to our table, her dark eyes twinkled as she whispered,

"Maybe it happened on the first Thanksgiving?"

She was such a delight, laughing instead of complaining when she had to work on a holiday, we wished we were related.

At this time of gratitude for material things that bless our bodies, family and friends that bless our spirits, there's still the matter of health. Without it, the rest can lose much of its magic.

A few weeks ago I spent a night in the hospital, chest pain reminding me that it is better to make a dry run to the hospital than to take a chance on an untreated heart attack.

Multiple blood tests and a stress test found nothing wrong. Medics were amazed at my good health.

Returning home, I observed, "We are so blessed to be well -- even as we grow older and notice more wrinkles."

I thanked God all over again when my funny, thoughtful man paid the ultimate tribute to aging: "Yes. But ours are healthy wrinkles."

We wish you a blessed and positive Thanksgiving.

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