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In All Things, Give Thanks

In Everything Give Thanks is a very appropriate garden sign.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I was born on a Thanksgiving day early enough that my mother got her meal. So far no one has found a way to commercialize or otherwise ruin this holiday for us. Not only is it a one day celebration with little preparation, but even cooking the meal is not so hard when it's the only thing I have to do the whole day and I have help and good company.

But in a way Thanksgiving Day is redundant, like having a Breathing Day. Who could get through any day without giving thanks? I thank God for every thing good, from good cards in my solitaire game to getting safely through traffic.

Of course, I do sometimes forget to thank Him for the bad things. "Trouble is the needle God uses to stitch us into finer quilts," I quote from the novel A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick. We sometimes forget, but deep down we know that is true. The worst thing that we thought ever happened to us, having a child with Down syndrome, has turned out to be one of our greatest blessings. We thank God for Teresa often, always have, wouldn't have missed her for the world.

Right at the moment I am most thankful for the plants that bloomed and the people who came to our Open Garden and especially for the people who helped me make it possible. Most of them were my children. Phil, first son, has only been here for the last three years and he has taken to the days like a natural. Second son Mike has always been in charge of the back yard along with our good friend Sharon Knarr and sometimes Master Gardeners like Sue Powers. Youngest son Tom, is seldom seen because he is shy, but he does the pressure washing--you wouldn't believe how green the cement had become-- and helps me get ready before and keep my computer going year round. My other son John lives in Iowa.

So do my two oldest daughters, Mary and Brigid, but my oldest granddaughter Elizabeth is a whiz at the book table and keeps everything organized. She is now a senior at University of Tampa and has plans for law school. Gretchen, our sixth child, is the great encourager. She and her sons Mike and Dave take me to get plants and vegetables and strawberry milkshakes.

Grandson Davey is not too sure about sharing "his" garden with all these people, but he loves to feed the fish.

She has always been on hand, but Mike's baseball games are starting to claim their share of her time. Catherine lives across the Bay but has become a regular nonetheless. She used to say, "Of course, I'll come," and then never show up, but not any more. You have to be thankful for help like that, especially when you pay them in soup and bread, even if it is homemade. I tell them that their help is the best birthday gift they can give me, much better than anything they can buy.

Teresa checks us out periodically to see that we're doing okay. She invited all her friends but was unnecessarily concerned when she saw someone using our scissors. She likes everything not only in the right place but at the right angle.

Davey, the youngest of our 13 grands at 3, was heard to say, "I'm so mad at all these people in my garden." But in the long run, he enjoyed it, sat on the bench and talked to some of the visitors. This is the first year he has been mature enough to play on his own. Gretchen is thankful for that. But still he hid occasionally. All of my offspring have always had a taste for the dramatic. So John used to look out the window when we lived on the farm and he needed excitement, and say, "The cows are out!" Sometimes they were and sometimes they weren't, but we always reacted, in the latter case with great thanks.

All and all, besides my faith in God, I am most thankful for my wonderful husband David, who also hates crowds and hides during the Open Garden days, but lets me have them, and for my children. Next would come the many people who show me their gardens and help me with mine with suggestions and cuttings and such. Love does grow in a garden. I've got the thanks part down fairly well, but I'm working on my faith to move that mulberry tree.