Okay, the photo is of a chicken not a turkey, but still, it’s a roasted poultry item.
I love Thanksgiving. How could I not? The culture has collectively given all of us permission to over indulge and it is the beginning of a chance to slow down, reflect and . . . eat some more.
But most of all, I love Thanksgiving because it is a holiday whose very title focuses on what is important: The giving of thanks. It’s good for us. I do it every week in my journal, and sometimes, lucky me, I get to do it here.
This year, it doesn’t feel like enough to just give thanks. I am compelled to turn my thanks into action. I may have my complaints, but I am a very, very lucky person, and I am compelled to do what I can to help others. Here’s my list of actions I am committed to taking before the end of the year. I’d love to hear yours.
IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU, Maggie (and Jim, and Tootsie . . .): I am going to give every member of my household their very own special day. Granted, Maggie and Tootsie live lives better than most humans in the world, but still, I can give them their ideal day as best I can. Maggie’s will be a long, long off leash walk, working sheep twice doing just the parts she loves best, a belly rub that lasts so long my arm gets sore, and, oh yeah, ice cream. Tootsie’s will be food, food and food, albeit carefully managed during the day to avoid intestinal distress (sadly, cat shit will not on the menu, even though it is Tootsie’s favorite). Jim–well, that’s for him to decide.
I just love the idea of committing to having the ones that I love and live with know that they are the sum total of my ‘to do’ list that day. What about you? What would your dogs love to do for the better part of a day?
HELPING OTHERS: We all know how many dogs and cats there are out there who are in distress. Perhaps they have no home, or they have little food, they are terrified of the world and no one knows how to help them. We all do what we can, and this year I am going to take multiple boxes of my books to my local shelter, the Dane County Humane Society, and to one I’ve worked with a lot, the Wisconsin Humane Society. I’ve heard from some shelters that handing out Love Has No Age Limit, about bringing a new dog into your home, has decreased the rate of returns and the numbers of calls on behavior help lines. I’ll send lots of Fastidious Feline and Way to Go books too, housebreaking always being a major factor in whether a dog or cat stays in a home.
There are so, so many ways we can help the people who help dogs and cats year round. A few of us can adopt, some can volunteer, some can donate money or books or food or bedding–but they need us, and what a wonderful way to thank them for all that they do.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE: There are a lot of people working their tails off behind the scenes to keep our lives running. Along with those who serve in the military, there are legions of people working in government, both local and national, that quietly toil to keep us safe and our lives functioning. I’m in a group that meets once a week to write postcards to those who influence policy. Although, as you know, I assiduously keep politics out of my public life, I mention it here because we often write thanking people who have done good things. The power of positive reinforcement, right?
I hereby am committing to writing thank you letters to a wide range of people, from dear friends to people I’ve never met. That’ll be part of how I spend my time the day after Thanksgiving. I am also going to write a thank you letter to myself. Have you ever done that? It’s a wonderful thing to do. Who doesn’t love getting a letter or note in the mail, almost hidden by the stacks of unwanted catalogs and bills? It’s like finding that perfect shell on the beach among the dead sea weed and gravel.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? How are you going to turn your thanks into action? (A point of unrequested advice: If you do decide to “turn thanks into action,” I strongly advise you, no beg you, to put it on your calendar now. I am a poster child for “committing” to something that I end up not doing because life gets in the way. And then I feel bad and guilty and awful. So, don’t commit to anything you aren’t really going to do, and schedule it now, as in NOW, so that it really happens. I’d write more, but I need to get out my calendar and start scheduling . . .
I look forward to hearing your ideas, which will no doubt inspire me and others. Which leads to my last action, thanking you:
THANK YOU, READERS. I’d write you all a personal note card if I could. Really, I would. I tell people all the time how much I love the readers of this blog, but I don’t tell you enough. I swear I have the smartest, most articulate, thoughtful readers of any blog anywhere. Okay, perhaps I haven’t read all the blogs in the world, but . . . Thanks. Truly. Truly Truly.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Here’s a drone video taken by Steve Dahlgren of Maggie and I moving the sheep through a gate, and then working together to split the group into two. There’s so much to see here–in particular how smart sheep really are. I want to move the sheep through a gate at the top corner of your screen (out of sight at the beginning of the video). Watch how the sheep use the bushes to make it harder for Maggie to get where she needs to be in order to move them in that direction.
Another thing to note is that Maggie lies down several times, which is not because I asked her too. Maggie does this too much (the opposite of most sheepdogs, whose owners have to work constantly to get their dogs to stop when told), and we are working hard on it. I’m doing all I can to keep her on her feet. It’s going well, but it will always be something that is inherent to who Maggie is. That said, she does a lovely job of doing what needs to be done here. This is a trivial exercise, simple every day work at the farm, and nothing approaching the challenge of an actual competition, but it’s really fun to see it from above!
Here’s a still shot from Steve of the entire flock. The three matriarchs are in the center, Meryl Sheep (second from left in the front), Lady Godiva and Lady Baa Baa by her side. These girls rock, and they know it.