I am aware of great longing in myself and others these days. Longing to get on an airplane and celebrate Thanksgiving with family. Longing to hug my best friend instead of nod from a distance. Longing to make a plan of any kind without contemplating the new rules and the new fears.

My sister Katherine gave me a bizarre, complicated craft project for my birthday a few weeks ago. It is a sticky sheet with thousands of tiny color-coded squares that, when filled in with thousands of tiny crystal beads using a tiny tweezer-like tool, makes a complete image. Mine is of three dandelions in a rainbow of light. It took me a while to get into it, but now I find great pleasure in the tiny-ness of this project. Tiny bead by tiny bead it is slowly coming together.

Last Thanksgiving my two sisters and their families came to stay and we had a houseful of crafty, musical, hilarious people. Tons of food, games, and family dynamics. It was a multi-day love fest. The dining room table where I do my new beading project is the same table where we all sat last Thanksgiving-- painting water colors, playing cards and Bananagrams, eating meals and chatting. As I placed the little crystal beads on their respective squares, my mind wandered to this time last year. My heart smiled as the images flowed through my memory.

For a moment it was as if I was looking down at myself; I was standing at a crossroads and my choices were to go towards the longing or to be in the present moment. In one direction were dustings of last year's memories still floating around me like smoke from a candle just snuffed. In another was me, sitting at my dining room table beside the warm, lit fireplace, the sounds of my daughter and partner somewhere in the house, my lukewarm, half-filled tea cup sitting next to my beading project. It was a micro-moment where I somehow made the choice to be here. As if waking from a dream I was back in my project, engaged and enjoying the present moment. I was aware that the longing was still there but it wasn't nagging or painful. It didn't take away from my joy.

Thanksgiving looks very different this year. And I'm okay with that.