I woke up this morning in Vermont, on a comfortable bed in a quiet room with a big window that looks out through the miles of woods that surround this house. I lay under a flannel-covered comforter, trying to decide whether to go to a local church to hear the choir sing, or if I should just take a morning to rest and see what comes next.

The sound of the stove door opening, the scrape of coals and the laying on of split wood, told me that downstairs the kitchen was getting warmer as I stayed right where I was.

Outside in the predawn light a few flakes drifted by, floating almost aimlessly in the air, my first snow of this season, little crystalline miracles falling from the sky. I closed my eyes and let my mind drift too, and when I opened them again I saw a blue and cloudless morning, and voices came to me from below.

Last night, it turns out, the cat had accidentally opened the freezer while making his way from the top of the fridge to an overcrowded counter top. The family were sorting the still edible from the spoiled and determining what could be salvaged for human consumption and what would be given to the chickens. I sat by the woodstove and laughed at the memories they shared as they read labels and considered the provenance of the foods under review.

Now a young man sings a wordless tune, the smell of breakfast drifts into the living room where I write.

Later I will drive home to Maine, carrying with me a bushel of Macoun apples for the sauce I will can for the coming winter. I will drive through darkness across intermittent flying snow, in traffic that sometimes slows to a crawl as drivers remember how winter works. After the hours of driving, arriving home still alert, I will unpack the car, hug my cat and start to plan for the coming holiday.

For some people Thanksgiving is problematic. With less than perfect accuracy, we commemorate a meal served to colonial settlers who went on to make every effort to erase those generous natives who fed them in their time of hunger and need. I can remove myself from that culpability, if I choose. At the time of Columbus’ journey, my forebears were being subjected to their own tortures, victims of the Inquisition directed by the same monarchy that paid the Genoese sailor to explore what Europeans were calling the New World.

When the Mayflower bumped up against the land of the Nauset, Wampanoag and Massachuset people, my ancestors were just beginning to go public about their religion, Christian kings in England and France were setting tariffs that would allow Jews to live openly (as much as $450,000 each time a new monarch was crowned) and Italy was creating its first ghettos.

So it could be understood if I simply ignored any stake in the guilt that accompanies a celebration of the feast that came at such great cost to its hosts.

This is a generous land. Even after generations of overpopulation and abuse, it still presents us with plenty. I am endlessly grateful for that. I won’t second-guess the wisdom of a planet that drops rain or snow upon my head; the reasons for the temporary inconvenience of weather events are beyond my understanding, even when I think I know the purpose of a frozen season.

For now, it is more than enough that there are people waiting for the text message that tells them I have arrived home safely, that there is hot water for a shower, that my warm bed waits for me. To know that I am alive to mourn my losses and to celebrate a meal at a table surrounded by loved ones is more than enough excuse to give thanks, no matter the holiday’s origins.

Shlomit Auciello is an award-winning writer, photographer, and human ecologist who has lived in Midcoast Maine since 1988. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print, on and off since 1992, and is published here on a weekly basis.