Nov 30, 2010
Nov 22, 2010
Nov 18, 2010
Thanksgiving was always a special day in our family when I was growing up. I have nothing but sweet memories of all the preparations and of a feast day that was beyond comparison. Mom would get up very early in the morning and start the preparations for our holiday meal. We always woke up to that familiar smell of roasting turkey that we couldn’t wait to taste. There were four of us girls (along with our three brothers) and each of us were assigned jobs to do. Counting out-of-town relatives and friends we would invite, we always had at least 25 people for dinner. That meant setting up extra tables and chairs in the living room to extend our dining room table.
We never complained about the extra work, but instead took great pride in being part of it all. As we worked, the atmosphere was charged with excitement. It seems like every year we tried to make it even more special than the last. Everyone dressed in their Sunday best, and so all of us girls would put on one of Grandma’s starched and pressed homemade aprons. Some of the jobs we girls had from the time we were very young were stuffing celery sticks with cream cheese, filling our mom's pretty cut glass dishes with olives and pickles, ironing tablecloths and cloth napkins, and setting the table with the beautiful china from the hutch. We always made place cards and spent a lot of time trying to figure out who should sit where. As guests arrived, we would offer appetizers, such as cheese and crackers and our stuffed celery sticks.
My dad always insisted on a crackling fire to add to the festive atmosphere, even though by the time everyone got there, it would get way too warm in the rooms! But he loved the tradition. It puts a smile on my face to remember how happy it made him. My dad loved nothing more than having his large family gather together for holidays.
For many years, even after we all grew up and moved away from home, we came back for Thanksgiving. Each year the numbers grew as we found a place at the table for our own children as well. Mom loved doing this holiday more than any other. She was just like a mother hen gathering her chicks together.
Eventually we just became too large of an extended family to all gather in one home, so we had to start dividing up. Mine became one of the "host" homes...and a baton was passed. I kept many of the same traditions we had when I was growing up, and added a few of my own. As everyone gathered around the table, we would either have an appropriate Thanksgiving reading, some singing, or go around the table with each one telling something they were thankful for.
One year I made a small twig tree which I had in the middle of the kitchen table. Around it were construction paper leaves in fall colors with strings attached. As each guest arrived, they wrote something they were thankful for on the leaf and hung it on the tree. It made a nice centerpiece. To this day I love setting a beautiful table and making guests feel pampered. I’m sure it all stems back to my great memories of the way our family celebrated the holiday. I still like the simple appetizers, and usually have a few on the kitchen counter to hold folks over till everyone arrives and dinner is served.
We have some younger friends whose extended families are out of state and they often join us for Thanksgiving. A few years back they came early to help out. Something I like to do is have some hot cider steaming on the stove. My friend beamed as she carried hot cups to the front door to greet the guests while her husband helped by hanging the coats. How could a guest not feel welcomed? That same year we had a special reading about the history of the first Thanksgiving, and we also had guitar music and singing by our two sons and a soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Precious memories.
Sadly, many of us are geographically scattered now so it is rare that we all are together on Thanksgiving. But with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, we are still too large a group to be at any one house. Last year we tried something different. We rented the party room at mom's condo so at least as many as could make it would be all together in one place. The experiment worked out really well, and so this year we are doing the same. While my heart resists the necessary changes in long standing traditions, I’m looking forward to doing it again, knowing that being together as family trumps all. With grateful hearts, we will be thankful once again for that blessing.
*I recently joined a Christian Writers Group at our church and I needed to write something Thanksgiving-related this week. I reworked a post I did last year, trying to make adjustments according to critiques I've had so far. I'm really excited to be in this group and I know I will learn a lot! Thought I would post this week's work ~ please be gentle readers!
Nov 17, 2010
Nov 14, 2010
Matthew 25: 31-46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."