Tree limbs creaked as the snow fell, heavy and wet in the dark, before the lights went out last week. Today the specter of coronavirus hovers over Halloween, and an email from a gift catalog landed in my inbox: “Only 60 days until Christmas — Get ready!”

Something gray and cold is rushing the season. Many parents, including our daughter and son-in-law, will keep their children at home tonight, as a safeguard against a grim and real health threat. My husband, Lee, and I considered letting our own front porch go dark, but that option lasted only a few seconds. We expect far fewer than the 150 kids who normally ring our doorbell, so I will mask up and wear gloves to hand out individual ziploc bags of treats, instead of offering a loaded candy tray and letting each trick-or-treater choose four pieces.

Earlier this week I checked the carton that contained frosted branches of maple leaves and berries for the mantel, garlands of red and yellow leaves for the windows, and a basket of fall flowers for the desktop. At the bottom of the box, a scrap of pink paper edged out from under a harvest wreath. I lifted the wreath and gently rescued the precious artwork from our kids’ childhood. They used construction paper to draw and cut out an “I am thankful” turkey, whose fan of multicolored tail feathers created a time capsule of family memories. The pink paper scrap I found was a feather with the word “Pammy,” printed in black ink. The feather celebrated our preschool daughter’s stuffed panda, a gift from her dad to his own beloved Amanda Panda. Although she is a wife, mom and doctoral student now, her dad and older brother still call her Panda, and the Pammy bear makes guest appearances in her own little girls’ bedroom.

Another feather said “Wicket,” our son’s teddy bear-like Ewok from the Star Wars saga. Geoffrey was six years old when the Ewoks helped save golden-haired Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi. One day I found Geoff in our front hallway, nearly in tears, holding a yellow crayon as he scowled at the mirror. “I can’t do it, Mommy.” He rubbed the crayon harder into his dark hair. “I can’t make me look like Luke.” Before we headed for the sink to deal with the crayon, I reminded my small son that he was very much like Skywalker: the Force was strong within him..Other turkey feathers memorialized our children’s love of books, their friends, the herds of cats who joined our family over the years, and “long talks with Mom and Dad.” I laid the turkey on a table and carefully re-taped the rips in the fragile paper. The turkey will take pride of place in our dining room until the Christmas decorations go up in December. Its feathers, and the love that connects our family, reminded me to rush my own season of gratitude, which begins today.

Sydney Craft Rozen will add a new feather to her family’s “I am thankful” turkey, to celebrate the joy she finds in Benjamin, the BadKitten of her heart. Email her at

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