“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 52: A Thankful Heart

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

A Lodge Thanksgiving…?

Jack and Sam stare back at me with hopeful faces, their tails wagging as they wait for my answer. We only just met, but they’ve kindly invited me to celebrate Thanksgiving with them; my parents are spending the holiday in California, with a relative who’s allergic to dogs, and they had to leave me here at the Lodge.

Well, celebrating with Jack and Sam couldn’t hurt! It might even take my mind off of the things I’m missing this year…

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“That would be fun! I’d love to celebrate Thanksgiving with you,” I say, my own tail now wagging with excitement.

“Yes! We’re happy to have you,” Sam says, lightly nipping at my ear as Jack races around us.

“Let’s have it right here!” Jack suggests, barely slowing his pace.

Here? But I don’t see any food…

“Where is it?” I ask, sniffing at the cool air.

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Sam tilts her golden head to one side. “Where’s what?”

For a second I think she may be joking, but her expression of genuine confusion proves otherwise. Maybe their families don’t eat turkey for Thanksgiving…I shouldn’t just assume things!

“You know, the, uh…the turkey,” I finally say, practically tasting the word as I speak.

Jack and Sam halt in their tracks, blinking at me in unison.

Did I say the wrong thing?

“Oh, a turkey would be amazing!” Sam says, a thin line of drool dripping from her jaw.

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“Do you know how to make one?” Jack asks me, a note of eagerness in his bark.

“Not…exactly,” I say, my head sinking closer to my chest, “I’m usually in charge of eating the turkey, not preparing it.”

I watch with some regret as Jack and Sam’s faces fall.

“Come to think of it, where would we even find a turkey? They’re birds, right? But I never see any at the feeder,” Jack says, his nose scrunched as he gives his questions serious thought.

“Mm-hm,” Sam nods in agreement, “I don’t think I’ve ever even seen one with the feathers still on. Oh well! We don’t need a turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving.”

Don’t need a turkey?

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“But isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? We’re supposed to eat until we fall asleep, then wake up and eat some more! A turkey is the very spirit of the holiday, all warm, fat, and golden brown, with that heavenly smell!” I say, giving myself over again whole-heartedly to my turkey-flavored memories.

Jack gives me a gentle smile. Suddenly, all of my ranting sounds…empty.

“We love turkey too, Bing. I’d eat some every day if I could. But Thanksgiving shouldn’t be limited to a tasty piece of meat,” Jack says, taking a step toward me. “Why wouldn’t the humans just call it ‘Turkeygobbling’ Day, if that’s all that matters?”

As I lower my head, the rich taste of turkey slowly fades from my tongue.

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“Bing, I think you’re kind of right! Turkey is the spirit of the holiday, because it’s a special, tasty gift we share with our family and friends. At times when you’re separated from the people you love, the memories of past Thanksgivings can bring you comfort,” Sam adds with a friendly bark.

Last Thanksgiving, Lucy said that this day is about remembering what we’re thankful for, but I don’t think I really appreciated what she meant. Maybe I’ve been thinking so much about turkey because I didn’t want to think about what, or whom, I was really missing: my parents.

“It’s hard to be away from my parents this year. I’ve always spent Thanksgiving with them…” I say quietly, staring down at my paws.

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“We totally understand!” Jack says, nudging my side. “We all miss our families when they’re away, but it’s especially hard during the holidays.”

“But you know, the Lodge really feels like another home. We have our dearest friends and human helpers here, so even if we miss our families, we’re never really alone. We might not be your parents, but would you still like to celebrate this day with us? As new friends?” Sam asks, her tail beginning to wag.

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Listening to Jack and Sam, I’m reminded of the real meaning of Thanksgiving. A thankful life is one in which we can embrace both the good and the bad that comes our way; it is one which allows us to recognize the blessings we’ve been given, even in the face of crushing loss and loneliness. A thankful heart tries to seek the joy in life, no matter what hurdles there are to overcome.

I still want my turkey, and to see my parents, but I’m so grateful that I met Jack and Sam today.

“Let’s all say what we’re thankful for!” I say in an enthusiastic bark, a smile breaking across my snout for the first time.

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“Good idea!” Sam says. “I’m thankful for…the Lodge pool, of course!”

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“Hmm…there are so many things to be thankful for, but I have to go with my buddy, Michael! He’s the coolest helper at the Lodge!” Jack says, leaping to his feet.

“What are you thankful for, Bing?” Sam asks, turning toward me.

Excited barks ring around the yard as a chilly breeze rushes over my coat. Overhead, a prick of sunlight breaks through the clouds, dazzling my eyes. The smells are nothing like a turkey in the oven, but they’re equally familiar, and equally comforting.

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“New friends!”

…to be continued…