It’s not really an easy year to be thankful.

It takes a while for some things to grow.  Even a decent tree starts out life as a spindly, fragile twig without much promise.  If I’m not careful, what is still broken, or spindly or fragile or hasn’t grown up yet can take all my attention.  I might even forget that I’m standing in shade someone else planted while I wait for my own to grow.   

This morning, I was reminded to consider the dreams already come true.   

For example:  

Almost thirty years ago I asked my sweetheart to marry me.  She said yes.   

Her parents said no. 

But we made a decision to pursue the dream.  We said our vows when I was just nineteen.  She was barely 21.   

It was a dream come true.   

A few years later, we wanted to start a family.  The doctors told us it wasn’t possible.  

But even doctors don’t get it right all the time.   

Now we have five children.  Four biological and one adopted.  I’m surrounded by people that emerged because of my dream.  My children wouldn’t have existed except for that dream and our attention to it.  Now there are five of them.  Five lives doing their own dreaming and planting and waiting.  

To this day, my wife and I have continued to cultivate the dream of ‘together.’  The result is that we have made a home.  Not just a charming, 1860-something brick house in a quaint Pennsylvania village, but a real home.  Because of that long-ago-dream, we can now snuggle together in front of our fireplace and play games with our children.   

Home is a place I always want to be.  I know that’s not true for everyone, but it is for me, and I feel profoundly grateful.  

Today is yesterday’s dream come true.   

Of course, life doesn’t always feel that way.  Some days feel like a serial night terror and the good stuff gets swallowed up in shadows and broken and filth.  Especially on those days, I’ve got to choose to remember the good stuff.  I have to choose to look at the dreams already come true.   

This Thanksgiving I’m reminded that we get to live in the shade of someone else’s dream.  

That first Thanksgiving certainly wasn’t a celebration that everything went right.  Almost half of the pilgrims had died the winter before.  But they chose to celebrate because celebrating is essential to moving forward.   

Celebrating what is alive, what is working, what is beautiful is a “hope-meal” that sustains us through the next winter.   

It’s not about the turkey.  It’s not about the time off.  It’s about the fact that we get to gather around a table with people in a country that grew out of someone else’s dream.  If they didn’t dream it, plant it, cultivate it, fight for it and celebrate what was then only a spindly, fragile twig without much promise— all of this would never have been.  

But because they did, we now share this shade with millions of other lives who are doing their own dreaming.   

Written by Dwight Kopp


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