It took two recent encounters while wearing my $12.99, big, grasshopper-green, plastic peace-sign earrings (embedded with sparkly glass chips) for me to recognize their value.

I bought them years ago and have only worn them once. It was a Halloween party. I went as me — but with big, grasshopper-green, plastic peace-sign earrings (embedded with sparkly glass chips).

This past Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, I wore them to Stop and Shop for my holiday shopping. I was feeling that heightened swell of warmth that always hits me when Thanksgiving becomes the reason I am in the supermarket. That fellowship with everyone else who is there at the same time. That sense of communal preparation. Who cares that your cart is blocking the aisle! Sure, you can have that last package of Pepperidge Farm breadcrumbs! Here, cut in line! It’s Thanksgiving!

But this year I expected to feel the bleakness that the election has draped over conversations, social media, the streets, dinner tables. I was prepared for a sense of discord in the aisles; polarization in frozen foods; lost souls in checkout. So I went out adorned with ear-to-ear whimsy. I will not partake. It’s Thanksgiving.

An older couple approached me in the parking lot as I was closing my trunk after packing it with groceries. They asked for, and I handed over, my shopping cart. They smiled simultaneously and both said “Thank you.” The woman said, “I love your earrings.”

“We need to help each other as much as we can,” I said. I rubbed the woman’s arm. She nodded. We simultaneously chuckled reassuringly. It’s Thanksgiving.

Hours later, while walking my dog on my street, a young woman jogging by proclaimed to my earrings with a fist in the air, “Peace be with you!”
It really is Thanksgiving.

So today I will bring my whimsy to the Thanksgiving table. I’m planning to wear my earrings all day. I feel grateful. I will give my mom, who is suffering from severe dementia, a tighter hug.

And by taking note of all the things that she can no longer do — go to the Stop and Shop. Connect with a total stranger or three on the street. Walk the dog. Vote. Make stuffing. Feel grateful. Put on big, grasshopper-green, plastic peace-sign earrings (embedded with sparkly glass chips) — I will be reminded of how easily and unexpectedly it can all be taken away.

Happy Thanksgiving. Peace.