Thanksgiving Day Blessings…

When I was growing up, I looked so forward each year to Thanksgiving.  My mom and dad were really good about making it special.   

Growing up on a dairy farm, I had chores to do every day with milking taking place early in the morning before school and late in the afternoon after getting off the bus.  There was no relief on the holidays.  At 4:00 p.m. my brother and sisters and I were off to the barn to spend the next 2 to 3 hours taking care of the animals and milking the cows.  Then cleaning up, we would go into the house to celebrate.  Of course mom was also usually down there in the morning and dad was down there in the evening.

On Thanksgiving Day, the cars were lined up in the driveway and starting at around 4:00 p.m., the festivities with grandparents, aunts and uncles and loads of cousins, began.  By the time we finished chores, it was 6:00-7:00 at night.  We would then come into the house through the basement and try to sneak through the maze of people to get to our rooms to change out of some extremely smelly clothes and race to the bathroom to wash up before dinner.

The aromas coming from my Mother’s kitchen were heavenly.  My mother would cook the biggest turkey she could find 25 – 30lbs, crammed with homemade stuffing.  Earlier in the day, my sisters and I would have already pealed a minimum of 10lbs of potatoes, and along with all that, there was no less than 12 other vegetables and side items spread out on the table for all to be enticed.

For the past 13 years, I have missed out on my family’s Thanksgiving Day dinners and gatherings.  For years, Earl led Thanksgiving Day services in churches.  We’ve also lived so far from either of our families that even when he didn’t have services, just trying to get to them has proved difficult.  In the early years with the kids, we couldn’t afford to fly with three children, so the attempts to get to St. Louis would be delayed by Atlanta traffic.  I remember one year trying to leave Atlanta on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving and 4 or 5 hours into the trip we had traveled only as far as the Tennessee border.  The red lights ahead of us were like a never ending river.  We realized that we had to turn around and go back or drive all night.

So now we have made our own traditions for Thanksgiving.  When the kids were home, I made sure I cooked everything my mom always had.  The first year, Earl and the kids were amazed as they counted 16 different items of food on the table.  I enjoy cooking, so Thanksgiving at our house has always been special, and it’s truly a day that Earl and I can give God thanks and also rest.  We’ve learned that Thanksgiving Day is a restful day – a gift from God for the service we do in His name.  And it gives Earl a couple days to energize before the Advent season begins.

Last year we started what I am going to consider a new tradition in this empty nest season of our lives.  With no kids at home and living far away from family, we found some of our friends who weren’t traveling either, and we decided to celebrate with them.  We split the cooking, and we all gather around a feast of food at one of our homes.  This year, we decided to eat over at our house.  We will enjoy the fellowship of one of our church families – but representative of our thanksgiving for all the saints.

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…” (I Thess. 1:2-3)

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