I have become the doddering aunt who falls asleep in her mug of cider by the fire only to wake up and tell the same stories over and over again. That's who I'd be in another place and time, anyway; in this place and time I have only my love and the cat to see me drooling on the couch, and I have the whole internet to regale with material you've seen or heard before. I apologize for the dullness of my absentminded redundancies, but thank you for your kind attention as you smile and refill my cup.
Along those lines, today I want to share with you a story that I'm pretty sure I have told on the internet somewhere else before, just can't remember where or when, maybe even more than once. And even if you haven't read it there, perhaps you've heard me tell this story somewhere else in person. Keeping the tales and telling them over and over is the job of crones, and though I am not old by modern measure, at the same time childless, unmarried, no longer possessed of quite all my faculties, and walking when I walk at all with a stick and a hobble, I am indeed the very stuff of crones. So I shall take the liberty attendant upon my status and bore you just a little longer.
Once upon a time, there was a little boy who lived with his mother. One day his mother called him to her and said, "My son, I have a quest for you. You must go out into the world and find a red house with a single chimney and no windows. The inside will be all white, and in the very center will be a star."
The boy loved his mother very much, and so he agreed and went forth into the world. He was gone a very long time. He searched everywhere, and he found many red houses, and many had chimneys, and most had windows but not all. Some were even all white inside. But none held a star.
Sad and weary, he returned home, in his mind a failure. But he was by nature brave and honest, rapped on the door of his mother's cottage, looked her in the face, and told her he had failed.
"That's all right, my dear," she said, gathering her son in a close embrace. "You were not to know that what you sought was here the whole time."
She went to the pantry and pulled out an apple, with a stem.
"See?" she said. "Here is a red house with a chimney and no windows."
Then she took a knife and cut the apple, not top-to-bottom the way we normally slice apples, but straight across the middle.
"And now you can see that inside it is all white, and in the very center is a beautiful, five-pointed star."
"And that," she told her son, "is what we call 'serendipity': finding something especially pleasant where we never would have expected."
And that is how I learned the word myself many, many years ago when a pretty young teacher told this same story to one of the elementary school classes in which I was enrolled.
Happy Love Thursday, everyone. And of course, Happy Thanksgiving if you are in the United States, or even if you're not. I don't think I need to spell out for anyone how serendipity relates to either love or gratitude; I just wish you plenty of it all.
(And just so you know, I might forget and do it again.)