There is a point in most of the Thanksgiving meals I’ve been a part of where the attention pivots away from the food that makes up the main part of the meal, and the focus becomes the dessert. When I was a kid, that meant the big plates were cleared away and the little plates were brought out, along with the short forks. These symbols of the sweet course would be introduced to the table with great fanfare, and then the pies and other desserts would take center stage.
At some point, someone serving up the desserts would almost always say something like, “Let me count noses for those who want dessert.” My hand would go up immediately. I definitely wanted my nose counted among the dessert consuming population.
That phrase “count noses” always made me feel pretty good. For one thing, I had a nose. I was one of the people they were counting up. I didn’t have to get good grades or say the prayer before dinner—I just had to have a nose to be included. It was affirming to be included in a group with such a low threshold for membership. I didn’t have to do anything, just be myself—and show up to be counted.
Second, I liked that I was a part of this particular group of noses. I already knew this, of course—if for no other reason than for the times I was told that I looked like my dad or my grandfather or my cousin. I had even heard people say things about other family members like, “She has her daddy’s nose,” further proof that noses were important in this clan. My clan. The one that I belonged to, and the one that belonged to me.
And third, I liked the fact that when they counted noses they were making provision for me to have dessert. It’s pretty nice to have someone looking out for me like that. Pretty nice that someone was thinking about what I wanted or needed. This was particularly important at Thanksgiving, because that comes just before Christmas and everyone knows that at Christmas you are hoping that someone is going to be thinking about the little list of things that you want (and not just socks, which you might need).
So this Thanksgiving, I hope you experience three important blessings that come with counting noses. First—the blessing of your own self-worth. Your nose, your face, your place in the world. Second—the blessing of being part of groups that love you, like family, colleagues, believers, Redskins fans, fellow citizens. And third—the blessing of being gifted and provided for. The blessings of life’s necessities, of work and health, and of an extra slice of pie even though you’ve had enough already.
May your nose be counted among the thankful this holiday, and may you be blessed and be a blessing to those around your table and in the life that we share.