In the quiet of  pre-dawn, with the only sounds in the house being the clicking of my fingers on the keyboard and the promise of a day that doesn’t need to be spent digging out from under a stack of essays (I don’t do physical labor all that well, even in the metaphorical sense), I’m able to sit for a few minutes and wax contemplative. It’s a habit I generally enjoy, albeit one that generally becomes a waif-like wallflower when Responsibility and Duty come to the dance, which they generally do about every day, even making multiple trips some days. For now though, I’m able to sit and think in a compositional type of way.

As providence would have it, yesterday flipped the calendar to November and at school we had an administrators’ meeting and turned our attention to the Thanksgiving break and what was going to happen. While my designs of pilgrim costumes for my fellow administrators made it only 3 feet up the 33-foot flag pole, the meeting turned my thoughts forward about three weeks to the time of Thanksgiving and the general season of gratitude. Even as I sit here at the kitchen table typing, I can see my wife’s handiwork on top of the hutch, Pinterestingly proclaiming the one line that seems to characterize much of one’s Thanksgiving melody: “I am thankful for . . .”


What strikes me this morning is not so much the words but the beauty of the ellipsis. (Perhaps there are other similarly-minded folks in this world who take delight in the beauty of punctuation marks?) Though the chorus of the four words gets repeated ad naseum the world over, the ellipsis stands for the myriad ways folks finish off that line in their own personal dialect, flavored by their own experience of blessings. While a crew of folks might all be thankful for the same general things, it’s the arrangement and distinctiveness of each one’s dots that gives a beauty all its own.

Let me explain.

Though coffee might make the top 10 list of many a caffeine-a-holic’s thanksgiving litany, few folks outside of Italy nurse quite the gratitude I have for the cappuccino I make every morning and for the caressable mug that simply forms to my hand while I sip it. Though a life coach might raise the question of addiction in the general direction of my mug, I’ll simply clench the steaming beverage a bit more tightly. It’s a part of my life and my thankful list in a way that’s different from everyone else on the planet.

That’s the beauty of the ellipsis. Each person’s three dots are as unique as fingerprints. And perhaps the real beauty of Thanksgiving gratitude is not the quantity of items on humanity’s unfurled scroll, but rather the subtle, nuanced hues of each person’s dots.

And then sometimes God just places the perfect wrap in your lap. As I’m sitting here writing this morning, it’s 6:03 A.M. My phone just buzzed with a text from my wife on the other side of the house. Though it could be a “good morning” or a “Hi Sweetheart,” it’s flavored with a general, virtual reality theme. In the mass of pigskin-loving folks on this planet, football, and especially fantasy football are items that might work their way towards the top of the totem pole of gratitudinal items. For me, my three dots look like this today: “I am thankful for . . . the fact that my wife plays fantasy football and greets me with a text that speaks to her earnest quandary about her roster and says, “What do you think about Dak Prescott?” (the QB for the Dallas Cowboys).  It may not mean much to you, but to me, it flavors my dots in a distinctive, utterly Hiemstra type of way.

What does your ellipsis look like?