But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9 ESV
Light. It’s the most powerful force in the universe.
Looking back, the last couple of years brought a lot of heartache and loss, not just for me, but for many. Turmoil, struggles, sickness, and death, became our everyday. And it’s not over yet. We stand in the predawn darkness, knowing that the sun will rise again. Waiting. And then it happens.
A few weeks ago, I stood on a balcony overlooking the Atlantic. Even in the darkness I could hear the waves crashing against the shore. And then the sun’s rays tinted the horizon. Dawn can be sudden and even startling at times.
Back home and standing in my kitchen window . . . well, the scene is not quite so dramatic. If I turn on my ambient noise and set it to ocean, I can pretend. Still, when the sun begins to ascend, there is no denying the power of light. Even breaking over the rooftops in my subdivision, it can be breathtakingly beautiful.
There is a beauty in every season of life that must be experienced to be appreciated fully. Coffee helps.
This is another reprint of a post from several years ago, with some revisions.
Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house did not include turkey, or if it did, the turkey was quite small and looked just like a chicken.
My family and I have wonderful memories from Grandma’s kitchen, where her chrome and Formica table with four vinyl-covered chairs sat smack in the middle of the room. We would retrieve wooden chairs with braided seats from the back bedroom so most of the adults could sit together.
Happy times! The family showed up with all the aunts “totin'” a dish or two, as Grandma would say. We’d set the table and leave a stack of plates on the Hoosier cabinet for the kids to fill and take to the “front room”.
There was no kid’s table at Grandma’s. All of us kids perched wherever we could find a spot, on couches, chairs, or on the floor. That house only had four rooms and two of those were bedrooms. No plumbing at all, and the heat was provided by a woodstove in the front room.
The star of Grandma’s dinner table was a chicken. Grandma raised chickens, so one was always handy.
Okay, I have a confession to make here: I never ate chicken at Grandma’s. Maybe I was a picky eater—I don’t remember—but that hunk of flesh in the center of the table had been out in the yard a few hours ago, scratching around. I couldn’t eat it.
I loved all the vegetables, though. Mashed potatoes and gravy, lima beans, crowder peas, skillet corn and cornbread dressing. But not the chicken, and certainly not the giblet gravy. I’d seen what went into the gravy. NO way! This girl didn’t eat innards.
Today, there will be a turkey on my Thanksgiving table. And there will be giblet gravy because my husband loves it. These days, I usually eat the turkey. I didn’t see it walking around and never made eye contact. I hope it had a good upbringing.
Happy Thanksgiving to you, whether you dine on chicken, turkey, tofurkey, etc.
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, We thank thee.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson [Prayer of Thanks]
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a beautiful time, when families gather together. We live on a small court and like us, many of our neighbors have lived here a long time. As the holiday approaches, extra cars are parked in their driveways. Their children have arrived.
I remember those days, when we packed up the car and left on Tuesday night, or Wednesday evening, to drive the seven hours to Mom and Dad’s. It was a special time filled with hikes in the woods, roasting marshmallows over a fire, and of course, the main event: Thanksgiving Dinner. Mom spent days preparing and finally, dinner is spread on the table and we sit down.
Yes, it was over in minutes. But we lingered around the table, laughing and talking. Clean up meant time spent on my own with Mom as we put the food away and washed the dishes. We put away all the special things she only used on holidays. We reminisced about past Thanksgivings, and loved ones now gone. Our sleep was sweet, maybe because of all the turkey we ate, but also because we were tired from all the activity.
If you ventured out on Thanksgiving evening, stores were closed. Restaurants were closed. Ghost town. And I liked that feeling. Families gathered together to celebrate. They weren’t working. They weren’t shopping. I was reminded of my childhood, when Sundays meant darkened store windows. Even the grocery stores closed on Sunday, the traditional day of rest.
Those days slipped away and now you can buy groceries on Sunday. And if you forgot cranberry sauce, you can buy it on Thanksgiving. I guess it’s convenient and the stores make more money, but it makes me sad to see these old traditions slip away. And now, Christmas has encroached on Thanksgiving.
Yes, in a way, Christmas has always out-shined Thanksgiving. When I was little, I was happy to see the back of Thanksgiving, because I knew Christmas was close behind it. Now, I want the days to linger longer. I want to enjoy Thanksgiving and then turn my attention to Christmas. But I realize it’s a personal choice. Christmas lovers all around me already have their houses decorated. And there’s really nothing wrong with that.
Their emphasis is still on celebrating families, and that’s what Thanksgiving is all about. Taking time to be thankful for the year’s bounty. I’m thankful for all that God has given this year. Like so many others, we’ve been through some things. But in the midst of all that, I can be thankful for God’s provision throughout our time of need. He’s brought our family together in a positive way and helped us overcome our difficulties.
When we sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner this year, we’ll have so much to be thankful for, beyond the food that is set before us. Each individual sitting at our table is a part of something so much greater. When all the pieces come together, we are whole, and we are blessed.
Christ, our Lord to you we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise…
For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, 1864
I hope your Thanksgiving is a time of celebration. Thanks for stopping by!
Last June (2020) I wrote about Mom’s family, the Christys. This year, I received a note from one of the cousins thanking me for writing about them and posting pictures of his great-grandfather and great-grandmother, Floyd and Alice Christy. He asked if Mom might remember Alice, as she died some time back. Mom was happy to talk about her Uncle Floyd and Aunt Alice. I thought her special memories would make a fine follow-up to that original post.
Mom will be eighty-eight in December. She spent most of last year recovering from a fall that resulted in a broken wrist and hip. She has a stubborn streak that would make her mama and daddy proud. They were grandchildren of pioneers, as tough as they come.
Mom is now back in her small apartment, taking care of herself. She is walking with a cane, bright-eyed, loves to read, and enjoys sharing her memories. Here’s what she said about those days:
I loved Aunt Alice. I’ll always remember the long, drawn-out way she would say my name with her beautiful southern drawl: Jo-Ann…
I can hear her so well in my memory. She was nice, jovial, and a great cook. For some reason, I especially remember her coconut pie. It was heavenly.
Back during WW2, the family came out to Seattle (from Texas) hoping their daughter, Joyce’s asthma would improve. She was always so fragile. Floyd, Alice, James, Joyce, and Grandma Minnie Christy, who later married Parker White and lived the rest of her life in the little house they bought in Amarillo. She left that home to Joyce when she passed away.
Those days they stayed with us in Seattle are the happiest days of my childhood. Earlene and I just loved our cousins, Joyce and James. We played lots of board games, cards, Chinese checkers—you name it. PLUS, Uncle Floyd had a movie camera and we got to watch lots of Disney-style cartoons. Did we ever love that!
Aunt Alice and Mama stayed busy cooking for that bunch. Grandma too, but most of the cooking was done by Mama and Aunt Alice. Both were very good cooks.
In the evenings, we would all sit around and sing. Back in those days, everyone sang. Daddy and Uncle Floyd played guitar and Mama played the piano. Uncle Floyd also played a mandolin. Joyce had a beautiful voice, except for the asthma interfering at times.
When Uncle Floyd got a job, they moved to a little house close to where “we kids” went to school. My sister, Earlene and I were so sad when they moved. But we got to spend the night with them on occasion, so we were happy about that.
Then they decided Joyce was getting worse instead of better, and I believe Joyce and Aunt Alice were homesick for Texas. So, they all left, and I guess Joyce was better off in the drier climate (though not cured).
I heard that Aunt Alice and Joyce went to Denver for a while to see if Joyce was better there. She was, but she and Aunt Alice were ready to go back to Texas.
The only other times I saw them was when we were headed to Tennessee from California (on vacation). We always stopped in Amarillo, and stayed with Floyd & Alice, as Grandma’s place was so tiny. Aunt Alice would invite the rest of the family over for meals. Boy, what great meals they served. Southern cooking–WOW.
What a blessing for me to have these wonderful memories of Mom’s. Not all of her childhood was happy, as her parents divorced when she was still in elementary school. So, it was a pleasure to hear she had happy times. When she mentioned that our family visited with Uncle Floyd and Aunt Alice when we passed through Amarillo, I remembered those times with Grandma Christy and the full house with lots of wonderful food.
Best of all, I remembered the laughter and what special guys my twin great uncles were. I’ve enjoyed this short “revisit” with my extended family. I would like to thank my cousin who contacted me, otherwise, I would never have heard this memory of my mother’s. She so enjoyed relating it!