Even in California, we get fall. The day will be a mild and sunny 60 degrees, but still, yellowed leaves blanket the bright green, drought-friendly artificial turf of our tiny backyard. My husband grits his teeth. He just vacuumed the yard yesterday.

Fall leaves

Interesting note: you don’t have to mow artificial turf (obviously) but you do vacuum it. You also “comb” it with a rake-like implement that has thin, flexible teeth. The switch to turf was meant to cut down on water usage and yard work, but it is so perfect and beautiful that it’s hard to see it marred by twigs and debris. My husband has spent many hours grooming it. It’s only sort of obsessive, and I suppose there are worse hobbies.

“I think you’re just going to have to accept that this is, you know, fall,” I say.

“Look how many leaves are left on the trees!” he says, pointing. Each one of them is a crinkly affront to his sensibilities. This is war. How is he going to keep up?

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m feeling that. The pressure to keep up.

Stores have Christmas trees set up next to pyramids of canned pumpkin and boxes of stuffing. My neighbors are already stringing Christmas lights and inflating puffy Santa lawn ornaments. I haven’t even bought my turkey yet!

Everywhere on social media, friends are posting daily lists of gratitude, which normally I love. I DO love it, actually. But also – I find myself casting about at the end of a long day when my brain is tired and all the words have fallen out of my head for things to put on my own gratitude list. It seems like it should be longer and contain more worthy items than “beer and Netflix.”

It’s hard to sit in gratitude when you don’t slow down long enough to sit. I keep obsessing about how many leaves are left on the trees. Deadlines to meet and errands to run and appointments to keep and recipes to ruin. Maybe, before I get to thanks, I need to dig up some patience, I think to myself.

This year, I’m going to celebrate Patience-Giving, and this is my wish, for all of us:

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, may yours be full of good food and laughter. If you don’t, may you have a spectacular third Thursday of November or may it at least not suck.

May the lines at the grocery store be short and may you find every last item on your list.

If you are spending the day with relatives, may they not push your family-installed buttons and may you find the grace to count to ten (thousand) before responding to comments about your: career, marital status, plans for children, weight, health, political leanings, hairstyle, and other life choices.

May your team win at football.

May your heart and traffic be light, and may you remain calm amidst the hordes of holiday drivers, because being late isn’t the worst thing in the world and though you think you’ll be happier communicating to that one idiot through the use of universal hand gestures that that was a DICK MOVE, you won’t be.

May your perspective, humor, and waistband expand to meet the occasion.

May you remember to stay in each wonderfully chaotic moment.

May you be so busy experiencing that you forget to take as many pictures as you’d have liked, and may your memories be so indelible that pictures wouldn’t have done them justice, anyway.

May you always hear the timer and may you not trip over the family pet when removing delectables from the oven.

If you have to work, may your day go quickly and smoothly, and may you find peace and rest at the end of it.

May you eschew the mall, but if you do go, may you not stab anyone in a mad scramble for bargains, because you won’t save any money if you end up having to spring for bail.

May your leftovers be kickass and plentiful.

May you realize that fallen leaves are lovely and that perfection is boring.

And however you spend the day, may you find, way down in the basement of your soul, a spring of patience. Even if you need a jackhammer to get to it (in my case, perhaps a Jack Daniels hammer). May this patience fill you and spill out onto everyone you encounter, and may it leave in its wake a gratitude list longer and brighter than a 50-foot string of Christmas lights.

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