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Making green-bean casserole and giving thanks

| November 22, 2020 12:00 AM

I’m making green-bean casserole for Thanksgiving this year, even though I don’t have to.

This quintessential Turkey Day side dish isn’t my favorite by a long shot, and with just two of us observing the holiday quietly at home this year, it would be easy to ditch it. But somehow I can’t make myself alter the menu because green-bean casserole is a tradition. My mom made it for decades, and I picked up where she left off.

In a year like this one, we need to be able to count on the little things in our lives that connect us to those past Thanksgivings that now seem so gloriously normal. For me, green-bean casserole this year is more symbolic than savory.

I’m downsizing the rest of the Thanksgiving meal, of course. My husband and I don’t need to roast a 14-pound bird. We like leftovers, but not 14 pounds’ worth, plus the trimmings.

Then there’s the matter of giving thanks in a year like 2020. Where do I start on this one?

Our lives aren’t the same as they were before COVID came calling. Yet I find myself being more mindfully thankful for all that I do have. I purposely take stock of what I have, rather than what I don’t have. In a “normal” year that may not always have been the case. In a “normal” year I tended to go about absorbing the busyness of life without hitting the pause button as much as I should have.

Let me give you a snapshot of my life at this moment in 2020 as Thanksgiving approaches. My husband just had his fourth surgery since last November. He had his right shoulder replaced a year ago, then his left knee replaced the end of May, then his right knee replaced the end of August, and on Nov. 16 he had surgery on his right foot that involved cutting his ankle apart and rerouting tendons.

It’s easy for me to make light of all of this when telling others, saying, “Yeah, this is the year we’re putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.” One of my brothers jokingly asked if my husband now has a punch card for surgeries — buy four and get the fifth free.

But here’s the truth. My husband, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, worked extremely hard physically his entire life until about two years ago when his body started to give out. He has endured an amount of pain that most of us could never fathom and he’s kept his chin up through it all. I fall into prayer every night, asking God to lift Tim out of pain. Hopefully one day that prayer will be answered.

I’m thankful to be able to work from home for a second time this year so I can change out ice packs, bring him coffee and keep him fed. He can’t put weight on his foot for three weeks, and then it’s another three weeks in a walking cast. The winter looms long ahead of us.

Each day is a blessing, though, isn’t it? I’m reminded of the old hymn that talks about “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.”

Whatever your Thanksgiving holds for you this year, find and count your blessings. And make the green-bean casserole.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.