24 November 2011
Giving no thanks for all they can eat
They are guests at my Thanksgiving table, and they are too numerous to count. How fortunate they haven't demanded use of the good china, which maxes out at 12 placesettings.
They feast on a stuffing of pecans, walnuts, almonds, berries, corn kernels and the occasional acorn. There is no turkey on this menu - they would not want it anyway. They need no gravyboats or soup spoons. They need no neatly folded napkins.
They simply gather together, each and every one jostling, reaching, munching and squabbling, just like any other ravenous family whose uneasy reunion is spurred by a desire to gorge. In fact, the familial resemblance between them is startling. Gray, after all, is an easy middle ground that even the not-so-style conscious can embrace. Still, it is hard to discern the mothers and fathers from their own offspring. A big appetite is obviously an inherited trait, a dominant gene, and they have passed it on through the generations.
To get to this feast, they had only to battle the holiday traffic out of the tree limbs and the tree trunks. Repeatedly. And by nightfall, they will be bloated with the day's digestion and their own self-importance. Today, after all, was all about them. Wasn't it?
No, they will not say grace before this meal. They never do.
Nor will they give thanks afterward. They never have.
And if supplies run short, they will merely chatter their teeth, stamp their feet and perhaps the boldest among them will take a catapult leap at the screen door. This Thanksgiving buffet is, after all, an outdoor table.
Ah, but the leftovers: An untouched acorn, buried for another day and then forgotten, adds to the forest. A bypassed walnut, packed deep into the earth, begets a tree. Perhaps then, for desssert, we need to serve a slice of gratitude of our own instead.
Let us give thanks, even if the squirrels - boisterous, bad-mannered and bawdy as they are - do not.
May our hearts and our doors always be open to them.