Happy, Grateful Thanksgiving!
There are several things about Thanksgiving that I consider important. Which is the most important is more of a matter of perspective. For example, many people see this time as the ‘kickoff moment’ for the Christmas season. That is sure to light the fire in the heart of our merchants, but it’s my experience that customers are delighted that the ‘holidays,’ and all those things that are connected, have returned. Those shoppers who have waited since the last ‘Black Friday,’ will testify that staying up all night to wait for that special deal is joyfully satisfying. Even bankers wait to read the results of their investments in businesses with hopes of a good return; a win-win for all. Wholesalers have stocked up, the internet is primed, and we stand breathless as we wait for the starting buzzer as another shopping season begins.
In my teen years good old ‘used to be’ skinny me thought the best part was the food. Frankly, there were times throughout those years that I missed meals. Looking at my old pictures from those times, it showed. Six-foot two, but only 135 pounds tells the story well enough. Somehow, we had food for Thanksgiving and lots of it! I remember the hams, turkeys, greens, potatoes (sweet and Irish), macaroni and cheese, slaw, hot rolls, salads, gravy, and every kind of pie, cake, cookies, ice cream, and eggnog. Wow! Talk about a tummy ache.
Because I lived with my great-grandmother, ours was the family home. It was there that the uncles and aunts and cousins, and close family friends rushed to visit. The bedrooms were stacked with people, as were all the open spaces that could hold a mat. The kitchen was alive with the chatter of women baking dishes, frying, rolling, stirring, and sharing their lives.
Another thing about Thanksgiving was the one thing that made the others possible. I’m talking family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and other visitors that joined in the festivities to enrich the festivities. The laughter, stories, and the departures from the ‘everyday’ lit up the whole affair. I remember when an uncle would slip me some candy, or maybe even a dollar. A buck was big money to me, and I planned carefully how to spend it. I know a few times I saved it to buy mom a Christmas present.
But there was a time, too, that we paused, bowed our heads, and gave thanks to God. Truly, even with a few ups and downs, it had been a great year and we had been blessed. Sometimes, in response to God’s loving Grace, we worked through the churches to put together packages for the poor. Even the kids would collect clothing or seek donations that would go to help those less fortunate. It is still altogether appropriate that we remember the source of our bounty, and that we give thanks for our blessings. May God forbid we become complacent or we take the fruits in our mouths believing ‘we did it.’
I remember in grade school when the teachers took us back to the times of the pilgrims when they first celebrated Thanksgiving. I still picture Indians and pilgrims gathered around large tables that were loaded with venison, rabbits, corn, pumpkin pies, potatoes, fruits (usually not in season), stews, fowl of all kinds, nuts, and a never-ending foray of side dishes and desserts. The Indians pictured in the text books were all feathered out with deerskins and beads, moccasins, and woven blankets that they had brought. I figured it likely that they supplied much of the game. The campfire glowed and reflected light on the scene as trust was built and friendships, at least for a time, were sealed and everyone prospered.
Back in the day, when the food was blessed, and our heads were bowed, we gave thanks for the feast before us. We were also grateful for our family and the freedoms we enjoy in this great nation. The Brownie cameras were pulled out and we gathered for group shots. Years later when I saw some of the pictures I had to be reminded who some of the people were. Nonetheless, I could see the happiness on the faces of those assembled. The times were good in our memories and worth revisiting.
Finally, when the celebration was over, and the people had left, it was the memories that were left. Life has a way of changing our future celebrations. Some of our families and friends will have departed and others grown older. This year’s celebration will be different, yet in many ways the same because the reason of celebrating has not changed. We can purpose to carry on the old traditions because they are good, and because they themselves bless us. Be thankful my friends. firstname.lastname@example.org