Last year at this time was very dark. The pandemic. Both children were in hospitals miles apart. Cold weather. Fading light. A dark night of soul and body. It was very hard to see the blessings in my life when there was so much suffering.

So this year, I am rejoicing twice. Once for all that I couldn’t see last year and once for the joy I have through newly opened eyes.

First and foremost, I thank God for love that binds our family together and extends to the many communities that touch and have deepened our lives — churches, colleges, organizations, and neighborhoods. Life is now a seven-layer buffet, a nutritious feast of multiple colors, light and dark, crunchy and smooth. The suffering and the joy are deeply intertwined.

By Owen Showalter, age 10

By Owen Showalter, age 10

Three special thanksgivings:

What are you especially grateful for this year? If 2021 has been, or is, a hard year for you, here is a virtual hug of deep empathy and a second helping of hope.

God bless you, everyone.

Shirley Showalter


  1. Melanie on November 24, 2021 at 11:39 am

    Congratulations on your book! So looking forward to reading it! This is the first Thanksgiving (and Christmas, too) that neither of my kids will be with us. I’m grateful that they are doing well, pursuing their best lives, but I know the house will feel way emptier this year. Looking forward to seeing them both before or after the holidays, and will spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my parents, before they move to Goshen in the spring. Lots to be grateful for.

    • Shirley Showalter on November 24, 2021 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks for starting the conversation, Melanie. It will be good to think of you and your parents together, knowing they will be moving to that sweet “spot in Indiana where the leafy maple grows” (Goshen College alma mater). Many transitions going on in your family too. I am grateful that we connected and have found ways to keep in touch on line.

      Thanks for the kind words for the book. Looking forward to connecting to readers near and far. Grandparents and non-yet- or never-will-be-grandparents who care about the next generation.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Les & Sylvia Helmuth on November 24, 2021 at 11:47 am

    Yes! Congrats on the new book. Our grandchildren are a blessing to enjoy! Thanks for sharing both the challenges of the past year, and the hope to come! We celebrate good health and the opportunity to serve where we’re planted.

    • Shirley Showalter on November 24, 2021 at 2:44 pm

      Les and Sylvia, it’s good to see you here. Thanks for the kind words about the book and thanks for your good work where you are planted. I appreciate you!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Maren Tirabassi on November 24, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    I am excited about your book as well. This will be a quiet Thanksgiving with some family illnesses deepening so that time is precious. A new dog (what the rescuers call a Tennessee dog (beagle, foxhound, collie, JackRussell mix — everyone should have a variety of grandparents, right?) is our son’s and his wife’s. they live with us. The senior beagle cross … 14 years and 16 weeks is like Eeyore and Tigger is … adapting and that’s a source of joy.

    • Shirley Showalter on November 24, 2021 at 2:48 pm

      May this quiet holiday truly be a precious time for you, punctuated by exclamations from Eeyore and Tigger.

      Thank you, too, for offering an endorsement of the book. You are so kind.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Jeannette Uibel on November 24, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    I am thankful our family ,now numbering 25 together for the first time in a long while!God has blessed us with good health!

    • Shirley Showalter on November 24, 2021 at 2:49 pm

      Wow, Jeanette! That’s a big table to set, and what a joy it must be to be together in good health after separation!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on November 24, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    So happy things are better with your family now!
    Loved the picture of the turkey done by Owen. Just this morning I wondered about the origin of the name for this bird. Hardy said”google it” which I did, and found quite the explanation. It has nothing to do with the country of Turkey!
    Congratulations on the new book, Shirley. I look forward to reading it. Who is your publisher?

    • Shirley Showalter on November 24, 2021 at 2:53 pm

      I’m glad you enjoy Owen’s contribution to our festive decorations, Elfrieda. Your grandchildren are artists too, as I recall. One of the chapters in our book is called “All Children Are Artists.”

      I’ll have to ask our grandchildren about the history of the name turkey. They like a challenge.

      Our publisher is Broadleaf Books, an imprint of Fortress Press.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Judy Sargent on November 24, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    Thanksgiving this year finds our children, grands, and greats in three countries and six states. None with us! Each will celebrate in their own way with other family and friends. Trying to regard multiple Thanksgivings as multiple blessings! Thankful for our own plan to share dinner with others here in our retirement community, some of whom are old friends, others new friends.

    • Shirley Showalter on November 24, 2021 at 6:09 pm

      Wow, Judy! Some many grands and greats. I am sure you are blessing them in their many places as you give thanks where you are. Sometimes we feel a little empty even as we fill up with good things. May you feel surrounded by friends and by love from a distance.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Marian Beaman on November 24, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    What an affecting post, Shirley!

    Though we are wordsmiths, storytellers even, we don’t get to write the script for our own (or our family’s) lives. And though we do our best to cultivate good health habits and anticipate problems before they multiply, control is an illusion. That’s why I reach up and out to a trustworthy God who loves and cares for me. I imagine last year’s experiences have add another layer of depth to your book on grand-parenting. Like others here, I surely look forward to reading it.

    Cliff says Owen’s turkey is too cute to eat and the drawing “remarkable for his age.” I know you are happy to be in Tulsa with your extended family. The happiest of Thanksgiving to you all! 😀

    • Shirley Showalter on November 24, 2021 at 6:14 pm

      Tell Cliff I was able to tell Owen what a fine compliment he received from a real artist. He smiled. Thanks, Marian, for passing that comment along. That’s how grace permeates the world.

      You are right about the perspective now after these past two years. “Control is an illusion.” Truly wise words.

      And much to celebrate.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. melodie davis on November 25, 2021 at 6:40 am

    This may seem weird, but looking at the breaking dawn this morning, I thanked God that Mom is “home” and not suffering in the simple and ordinary ways she was suffering (waiting for helpers to go to the bathroom all through the night). We are thankful (keeping fingers crossed) that we get to celebrate with 2 out of 3 of our children and 3 out of 5 of our grands. 🙂 God bless you and yours (did Marian say you’re in Oklahoma??). May you have a special Thanksgiving!

    • Shirley Showalter on November 25, 2021 at 9:18 am

      Yes, Melodie. We are with our son’s family in Tulsa today and helping with a big feast, the first one Chelsea and her mother will celebrate without father and husband. So, as is often the case, the sadness and joy intermingle today. But for all of life, we give thanks.

      Death is old age is a little like childbirth. When we get to the end, we find the pain and uncertainty of the next stage preferable to the known pain and certainty of the present.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your grateful grieving family.

  9. Earl F. Burkholder on November 25, 2021 at 9:38 am

    Thank you for sharing – you and Stuart continue to be an inspiration in many ways. Best wishes always,

    • Shirley Showalter on November 25, 2021 at 10:43 am

      Aw, Earl, thank you so much for these kind words. You and Donna inspire us too! God bless.

  10. Judith Trumbo on November 25, 2021 at 10:17 am

    Dear Shirley,
    If you will allow me, I’m thankful (double portion, running over) for you! For the many amazing qualities you have and most importantly for your capacity to give love and receive love be it family, friends or a stranger, though I’m not sure you’ve ever met one of the latter 🙂

    You are aging faithfully as Alice Fryling writes. I thought of you often as I listened to this podcast on a glorious fall day drive from Bedford, VA, to the Peaks of Otter:

    For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love that from our birth over and and around us lies, Lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    • Shirley Showalter on November 25, 2021 at 10:50 am

      These words brought tears to my eyes, Judith. Thank you for them. You know from whence and from whom all blessings flow.

      I will download this podcast and listen to it on the way back to Pennsylvania tomorrow.

      You have a special gift of Thanksgiving. Not just on this day, but every day.

      Thinking of you in these next four months as you finish one calling and prepare for your next one. Can’t wait to see how you will flourish next.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Laurie Buchanan on November 25, 2021 at 10:55 am

    Shirley —
    I’m thankful for family, friends, and good health.
    I’m thankful that even the smallest light can dispel darkness.
    I’m oh-so looking forward to reading your book.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from me and mine.

    • Shirley Showalter on November 25, 2021 at 11:14 am

      You right to the deepest places, Laurie, like you always do.
      I love the reminder about the power of light. So grateful with you for this power.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours also. Hope you can be together.

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