Notes From the Field: Reasons to Give Thanks

October 24, 2011

By Cheryl Katz

I am always happy to hear from our son, Oliver. Like most college seniors, Oliver is a pretty busy guy, whose text messages are brief–“How r u?‖and, more often than not, whose e-mails include requests for an advance on allowance for some obscure sports accoutrement.

So when he recently texted, “Looking sooo forward to Thanksgiving. Can’t wait to c u guys and eat a mountain of turkey,†I was delighted, if not a bit taken aback. Thanksgiving? So soon? With piles of summer clothes still waiting to be put away, the upcoming holiday season wasn’t on my radar.

Every Thanksgiving, for the past fifteen years, we invite family and friends to celebrate with us. Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday–no gifts, no religious obligations, just being together around a table with a big plate of food. But before carloads of guests arrive bearing pecan pies and pinot noir, we take stock of our house. The week leading up to Thanksgiving becomes our version of spring cleaning.

This pre-holiday rite starts the same way each year. Armed with big green garbage bags we begin on the top floor, slowly making our way down to the first-floor kitchen. It’s amazing what can accumulate in the course of one short year. Along the way, we recycle old newspapers, partially read paperbacks, outdated New Yorker magazines that we meant to read, receipts for things we’ve used hundreds of times and have no intention of returning and board games with more than two missing pieces. If we’re thorough enough to look under the cushions, we discard more gum and candy wrappers then we care to think about. We make a clean sweep of the everyday clutter of life. Then we dust the windowsills, clean the carpets, wash the curtains, scrub the tiles–with a toothbrush!–and re-fold, re-hang and generally re-organize.

Responding to Oliver’s text message, I wrote, “Getting ready for Thanksgiving, pulling out the supplies.â€

An ordered house not only welcomes our guests, but it beckons us back as well.

The Necessary Supplies
A sturdy apron from Utility Canvas.

A safe, green, hardworking, all-purpose cleaner from Common Good.

Pot scrubbers from Justamere Tree Farm (their Shaker Broom is great, too).

The Ultra Slim Step Stool from Williams-Sonoma.

All-purpose string for bundling ephemera, from Black Ink.