Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Not-so-Normal Thanksgiving

Gift #370- a not-so-normal Thanksgiving 

As we hosted and celebrated Thanksgiving with Rick's mom and dad and our children, I sorted through thoughts and memories about this wonderful time of the year.  This was the first in my lifetime to have the responsibility of cooking the turkey, dressing, mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, tea and rolls.  I baked from scratch my mother's recipe of her chocolate pound cake, and the apple pie (Mrs. Smith's style). My mother-in-law brought corn, brown rice, and a couple of other desserts.  I set the table on Thanksgiving Eve and reflected on the many things that I'm thankful for. I have no pictures because our camera broke.

The normal Thanksgiving celebrations have always been served and celebrated somewhere else; in Charlotte, NC with my husband's extended family, or in West Columbia, SC with my dad's side of the family.  We've never had to cook the whole meal. (And thanks to Publix, I didn't have to cook the turkey or the dressing.)

As Thanksgiving morning unfolded, many childhood memories began to flood the theatre of my mind.  Here's some of the feature that was playing:

Many Thanksgiving mornings I would awake to the aroma of turkey and dressing cooking in our kitchen.  My mom was an excellent cook and my dad learned to be as well.  Our family was always asked to provide the turkey, dressing, and coleslaw for the much anticipated family event.  As my sister and I got dressed for the day, the sounds of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade played on TV.  I loved to watch the balloons, the bands, the floats, and of course, the highlight of the parade, Santa's sleigh because he signified that Christmas was on it's way!  Excitement was building.

As the day continued, we arrived at the chosen location for the year to celebrate with my dad's side of the family.  As we waited for the clock to signify, "It's time to eat!", we would gather around the piano and dad would have me play the hymns of the season. (I probably began this tradition at the age of 9 or 10.) His favorite was "Count Your Blessings."   The family would sing and share what we were thankful for.  Then the moment would come for the blessing of the food.  As mouths watered, we children would inch closer to the awesome spread awaiting the great "Amen".  We filled our plates with our favorites and sat in our designated places as the table talk, laughing and sharing continued.  With dad's five siblings plus nieces, nephews, and cousins, there was a lot of food to choose from and many voices to listen to and talk over.

In the afternoon, we would come back home and crash in front of the TVs; yes, all three.  Two small black and white ones placed on top of the colored console with the rabbit ears placed just right so we could keep up with all of the teams playing that day.  My dad knew how to watch football.  He ignited my love for the pigskin as soon as I could sit up well.  We would watch the games a while and then during half time, dad and I would go out into the yard and throw passes to each other.  I was such a tomboy, but I loved those times with my dad and I wouldn't trade them for all of the girly dress-up clothes or baby dolls in the world.  To this day, I am a football junkie.  I love it!  Thanks, dad!

I'm missing mom and dad this Thanksgiving season as I continue to celebrate many "firsts" without them.  I am truly grateful to God for choosing the parents He chose for me.  What a gift.  What a legacy.  What priceless, precious memories!

Thanksgiving has a deeper meaning this year for me, I believe, than any other.  Not just because of the significance of why America celebrates this special day, which definitely causes a lump to develop in my throat, and how grateful I am to be living in the greatest country in the world, but more so for my relationship with Jesus Christ.  What has deepened the meaning this year for me is being aware of the gifts that are right in front of me day in and day out and recording them in a journal.  Daily thankfulness has enlarged my heart with a deeper love for God and has provided me with a child-like wonder and expectancy of what He will show me today! A friend gave me a little plaque after we had completed the book study "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  It simply says, "Thankgiving is one day.  Thanksliving is all year."  That's my new found attitude about this day and every other day of the year.

So as we celebrated a not-so-normal Thanksgiving this year, I pray that every day will be no-so-normal as I continue looking for and recording the many taken for granted, glorious gifts from an extraordinary God!

I hope you had a not-so-normal Thanksgiving too!  If you haven't started, begin today counting and journaling God's gifts in your life.  It's never to late to be thankful.  Happy Thanks-living!

My Pleasure,
Melanie