On Thanksgiving and beyond, we basked in the shine of Margaret’s grace

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Thanksgiving 1958: It was grand. The whole family was together, including my sister Margaret, who was old enough to live on her own. That meant fun, and love, and raucous laughter. Especially because of Margaret. She didn’t top out anywhere near 5 feet, due to polio as much as parentage. But she was packed full of joy. 

Margaret lived with daily challenges. But she also brimmed with gratitude! Her signature phrase always made us laugh: “This changed my life!” she’d exult, referring to a jar opener, a portable carrier for her oxygen, or a potato salad. Oh, we lined up 10 deep to help change her life, for the same reason flowers track the sun. That’s how much shine she had. 

Why We Wrote This

Conscious gratitude enriches and enlivens everyone who participates in it, as my older sister showed.

That’s the thing about shine. It doesn’t stay within its source; it gives itself away. Margaret’s grace amplified our own. We yearned to be as wonderful as she already thought we were.

There’s not a Thanksgiving that goes by that we aren’t grateful for the gift of Margaret’s memory. It’s as good a day as any to give thanks. Margaret would be the first to point out that every other day is good for that, too.

Thanksgiving 1958: It was grand. The house smelled like real butter – we were a margarine family the rest of the year – and the whole family was together. Usually it was just my folks, my sister Bobbie, and me, but this day David and Margaret, who were old enough to be living on their own, were home too. That meant fun, and love, and raucous laughter. Especially because of Margaret.

Margaret was an event.

At that point, I was the only person smaller than she was. Margaret didn’t top out anywhere near 5 feet, due to polio as much as parentage. All I knew was that she was completely packed full of joy and hilarity, and she could detonate at any time. Bobbie and I had dibs on the wishbone from the turkey, but with everyone around one table, we couldn’t come up with anything else to wish for. 

Why We Wrote This

Conscious gratitude enriches and enlivens everyone who participates in it, as my older sister showed.

I’m all grown up now, sort of. Real butter is bubbling in the pan. My husband is mincing garlic for it, and I’m pouting like a child.

“I wish I could find the discipline to practice piano every day like I did when I was taking lessons,” I whine, as though that were an impossible thing. “I need a routine.”



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