Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving that Peace is Possible in Turbulent Times

24 Nov

I had intended to spend time today writing a blog about all I’m thankful for, wondering how to do that without sounding trite, which is odd, considering it’s those “trite” blessings we take most for granted—clean running water, electricity, cars, health, and family.

Then I re-discovered this most profound statement, written in the 89th year of our nation’s existence, before electricity and working indoor plumbing made it to the White House (interestingly, there were toilets installed, but no running water, so the president and his family used outhouses). It was written by a man for whom the telegraph was a modern marvel, and whose family suffered a great deal from disease, mental illness, and tragedy, a man experts believe sufferred from extreme depression.

So, I will not blog my own thoughts today, but instead defer to a “guest blogger” who understood the true meaning of thankfulness, and knew what really matters. Wishing you all a warm, bountiful, humble day of thanks.

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Abraham Lincoln

Abe Lincoln, spring, 1865

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

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The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. –Psalm 28:7

 

Not A Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving…

25 Nov

The only Thanksgiving element I absolutely cannot do without is family. For me, Thanksgiving is synonymous with loud, boisterous, prank-pulling, bowl-dropping, too-many-in-too-small-a-space, story-telling, story-denying, over-hugging, over-cologned, and occasionally under-showered, family.

As one of nine children, I remember Thanksgiving as the one day of the year we hosted both sets of grandparents (we’ll call them the Ungers and the Maddisons), and one or two relatives whose branches we never quite located on the family tree but were always called Uncle and Ginny. The uncles changed nearly every year. I remember one who was particularly fond of loading chips into his big floppy fishing cap and walking around offering chips to everyone. Never saw anyone but him take from that cap.

…Plus a Saint Bernard and small black mutt with the heart of a lion and teeth of a piranha. And when they both went to puppy heaven, two dogs stepped in to take their place. Always two dogs.

We’re not talking a Norman Rockwell painting here. We’re talking at least one child lying under the living room coffee table with a stomach ache after downing a jar of pickles, another with peas stuck in her nose (you thought I forgot, huh sis?), the always proper Nana going through at least five martinis while Dad played endless pranks trying to get her to swear at him (he always got at least one good shriek out of her—usually involving Pop Rocks or a plastic spider frozen into an ice cube), Grandma doing her best to look unfazed by the chaos but not fooling anyone, and Grampa being the only one of the elders truly having a good time…because he sat in the rocking chair the entire time with his hearing aid off.

There was always a roaring fire in the fireplace, with one or two soot-smudged older boys piling on way too much wood or sword fighting with the pokers. They must fight stealthily to avoid stepping on the Saint Bernard’s massive form splayed in front of the fire, or the youngest siblings who are using him as a pillow. The little dog, for some strange reason, thinks the safest place would be at Mom’s feet. Every so often we’d hear a yelp and a “Someone get this damned dog out of here!” (Sorry about the language, but that was typical Thanksgiving Day vernacular, if not from Mom, then from Nana when Dad finally scored.)

And the rest of us? Let’s just say my Mama didn’t raise any quiet children. By the time we were all seated around the two or three tables, we’d already run up and down the stairs 50 times, played 20 rounds of HORSE at the frozen basketball hoop outside, consumed all the olives (after chasing each other through the house with scary olive fingers, of course) and all the chips, pickles, and anything out of Mom’s slotted spoon range. (Mom was deadly accurate with a slotted spoon.) Frankly, we sat because we were tired. Mom, too, come to think of it.

Here’s where I have to give props to Mom. I don’t remember helping her with Thanksgiving dinner. I honestly don’t. I know for certain the boys didn’t. I do remember the flour on her cheeks and hands, the strand of curly hair that always fell across her face when the steam hit it, and the mounds and mounds of delicious food she put on the table. Every year the feast was fabulous and perfectly cooked, all timed just right and served hot. Pies for days, and gravy the likes of which I’ve not tasted since. If I could send a message to her now in Heaven, it would be, “Mom, I didn’t know. I’m sorry, and I’m amazed, truly.”

Fast forward 40 years to a quieter time. Much quieter. Thanksgiving means so much more to me now, but my family is so much less chaotic. Funny, I only really miss the chaos on Thanksgiving. My siblings all have families of their own, and we live in five different states, so reenactment is highly unlikely, although, combined I think we own a zoo’s worth of dogs and cats.

Thanksgiving_table

Hoping your table is bountiful and your blessings overflowing

To make up for the quiet, and to maximize the joy we feel for this day, my husband and I spend every Thanksgiving in a huge Cabin in Prince William Forest Park with about 70 of our closest friends, primarily our church family and their guests. They won’t run around with peas in their noses or olives on their fingers, nobody will be tripping on dogs (although I hear we may have an Australian Shepherd on site tomorrow who’s also an Afghanistan war veteran, so there’s potential), and everyone will behave, I’m sure.

But I’m bringing Pop Rocks, just in case.

 

Wishing everyone a fantastic Thanksgiving, and praying a grateful thank you to the men and women in uniform, both military around the world and our first responders at home, who will be on duty while we celebrate. Your sacrifice does not go unnoticed.

_________________

 

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. — 1 Tim 4:4-5