Thanksgivings of yore (and what I’ve learned)

Thanksgiving is the kick-off of my favorite time of the year ( I think y’all know how I feel about the Christmas season), and this year we’re staying in town and hosting my family for dinner. Don’t worry. I won’t be doing all the cooking. Adam is cooking the turkey on the grill, I’m making a few desserts, and Mom and Jenny will arrive in all their chef-like glory and get busy in the kitchen whipping up all the rest of the deliciousness like it’s no big thing.

Anyway, as I’ve been cleaning bathrooms and trying to get my house (somewhat) in order for company, I’ve been reflecting on fond memories of past Thanksgivings and what-have-you. There have been some good ones.

Of course, I remember some Thanksgiving dinners around my mom’s dining room table. Grandy’s cranberry relish and that sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and nuts on top were always staples. There’s something so comforting about being with just immediate family, eating the foods you’ve eaten year after year in the place you call home.

We spent many a Thanksgiving at my dad’s parents’ with numerous aunts and uncles and 14 cousins in all. Wild and crazy fun times. My Grandy, aunts, and at least one uncle would prepare a feast for 30 plus people. Before the meal, everyone would cram in together in the living room, per Papa’s request, to hear him read an account of the first Thanksgiving from The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall. Papa always reminded us of The Legend of the Five Kernels of Corn. During the pilgrims’ first winter, food was scarce and many died of starvation. Some days, each person only ate five kernels of corn and saved the rest to be planted in the spring. At the first Thanksgiving, the pilgrims began the meal with just five kernels of corn on each plate to remind them of all that God had provided. After reading this story, Papa would then declare that each of us was only getting five kernels of corn to eat for Thanksgiving dinner. We would usually roll our eyes, eyeing (and smelling) the mounds of food waiting in the kitchen. Looking back, though, I’m thankful for that story and declaration by my Papa every year. It was a reminder not take the abundance and ease with which we fill our bellies for granted. Many who came before us struggled to have basic needs met. Many among us now (and around the world) still do. Food is not a guarantee. Every good gift we have comes from the hand of a gracious Giver.

photo (1) photo (2) photoThen, there was our first Thanksgiving as a married couple when we hosted 7 guests in our 800-square-foot apartment with one bathroom for almost 4 days. Truly, one of my absolute favorite Thanksgiving memories. We were in our first year of seminary in Louisville, both working retail, and had to stay in town for Thanksgiving to work Black Friday. So, Adam’s family (parents and sister’s family) decided to come to us. They thought it would be fun to all stay together and assured me they didn’t mind sleeping on air-mattresses and the couch. I was a little nervous about that many people in our small space, but it was so. much. fun. We went out and explored Louisville (our first time to Churchill Downs). We also stayed in and just relished being together. It was chaotic—people and stuff everywhere—but so worth it. Because we lived so far away, having family in our home was a rare and treasured occurrence. It didn’t matter that half the family sat at a card table in outdoor camping chairs for Thanksgiving dinner. We even ate off regular, everyday plates because we had no room for our fine china. That year, I learned that you don’t have to have a Pinterest-perfect table or a gorgeous guest room to practice hospitality. Opening your home, your life, and your heart to others (regardless of the material things you have) gives you the opportunity to bless and be blessed in such a tangible way. That Thanksgiving at Village Manor M3 is one I will cherish forever.

Making pies in our teeny-tiny kitchen.
Making pies in our teeny-tiny kitchen.
First visit to Churchill Downs.
First visit to Churchill Downs.
Family at Churchill
Family at Churchill
Ana playing dress-up in my clothes, ready for dinner.
Ana playing dress-up in my clothes, ready for dinner.

This year we’ll host again. Even though we have more space and a dining room table now, it won’t be perfect. There will be toys all over the floor, children screaming and running about. I’ll likely drop an egg or burn a pie or stress out about something trivial. But it won’t matter. We’ll be together, holding hands, giving thanks not only because we have been given so many good gifts, but because we know the good Giver. And in light of that, nothing else really matters.

Great God, accept our gratitude for the great gifts on us bestowed

For raiment, shelter and for food.

Great God, our gratitude we bring, accept our humble offering.

For all the gifts on us bestowed, Thy name be evermore adored

—Josephine Heard

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sherry says:

    Sarah, Enjoyed reading your sweet post. I am thankful for Martha’s sweet friends – Adam and Sarah, who were so kind and faithful to her during her college years! (Never forget – “Mom, I have met someone who knows about Lottie Moon!”)

    May God bless your family this year!

    Love,
    Sherry

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