Many believe that this simple fact is now true: Thanksgiving may be the only day left in the year for family, friends and food. It is a day of generosity and talking to each other in a relaxed way. (Or it should be.) I believe the test of a true holiday is when one set of questions is replaced with another set. Thanksgiving is the holiday where the question where are the gifts? is replaced with, can we now gather around the table? The question replacement phenomenon only happens once a year, and it happens at Thanksgiving.

At Thanksgiving all the questions change in a good way. For example, the question, how many grapes are in a bottle of wine? is replaced by, how many pies should we get for 18 people? Both are tough questions to answer but I like the second one better than the first.

Here are more examples of how questions change on Thanksgiving here:

  • Traditional question: Where are all these people coming from?
  • Thanksgiving question: When does everyone arrive?
  • Traditional question: Are you worried about that tree falling across the road?
  • Thanksgiving question: Would you bring in some extra logs for the fire?
  • Traditional question: Aren’t we saving that for a special occasion?
  • Thanksgiving question: Why don’t you get the really good stuff out of the cellar?
  • Traditional question: Do you think we can finish this project before it gets dark?
  • Thanksgiving question: Why don’t we wait for another day before we start a big project?

The Thanksgiving message is clear and it lives on: It is a day without guilt. Even the Pilgrims were without guilt on the first Thanksgiving. It is a day where it is OK to not feel guilty about what we eat or drink. It is a day where we don’t feel guilty if the roses have not been fed and the vineyard is unattended. It is a day where we don’t feel guilty for walking around through the leaves instead of raking them.

It is a day where friends, family and food are more important than work. I know, for the chefs and the hosts, Thanksgiving is a lot of work. It is not easy to cook and clean for armies of people who show up with only a can of cranberry sauce. But it’s different work, at least for me it is.

But in true Thanksgiving tradition, let us rejoice once again and give thanks. Here are a few things I am thankful for this year:

  • I am thankful that all the beat up stuff in the barn that I never got around to painting is now in style.
  • I am thankful that our pool cover works and wins the battles with the falling oak leaves.
  • I am thankful that it rained, even a little.
  • I am thankful that bats eat bugs and have not flown into the house in a while.
  • I am thankful, at least on Thanksgiving, that we have spotty cellphone coverage so that no one is checking messages during dinner.

Mostly, I am thankful that wine country is such a special place and that we are part of it. It is a place that has the ability to change lives by virtue of bringing people together and providing perspective. More than once we have had visitors change their lives after spending time here. And if that time here includes food, family, friends and wine, even better. Time spent here is about enjoying more simple things and sharing those things. I hope you all enjoy.

It is put best by Frederick Keonig:

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

Rich Moran splits his time between the city and wine country and is thankful for both.

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