Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Gifts of Thanks

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

He was a scrawny little guy with a head too big for his body. A definite descendant of Calvin the comic strip if ever Calvin grew old enough to marry Susie.

Dad had skipped town with another woman. His mother was all he had. She was a great mother; she took him to ball games, caught frogs in the reservoir, and told bedtime stories with gore and goo.

He loved his mom.

He loved her so much he was saving acorns in his desk for her.

As autumn turned into winter the strange odor seeping from his desk drew my attention. The acorns were filled with maggots.

I explained in no uncertain terms that the acorns were to be thrown away and the desk thoroughly washed.

He was devastated.

Those acorns were his gift to his mother. He didn’t see the maggots; he saw the great joy that he had picking them up during recesses, plopping them in his pants’ pockets, squirreling them away in the pencil box. He knew his mother would love them.

I knew she would not.

Then I became a mother.

As a mother of boys, I was gifted rocks, sea shells, worms, even a dead mole. I was regaled with fantasies, jokes, and riddles. I was serenaded, hugged, and kissed with sticky, filthy fingers and faces. Occasionally I even received a fistful of flowers.

I loved every single gift.


Because they were given in love and appreciation. Something my boys valued was freely sacrificed and offered to me.

I didn’t need any of the gifts my sons gave me, but I treasured them like a Kindergartner’s maggot-filled acorns.

God doesn’t need anything you give him. But if you freely offer him a gift, He will accept it with tears of pride and joy glistening on his cheeks.

What will you offer God this week?

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV

First at the Table

All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind. ~Khalil Gibran


Thanksgiving feasts are always later than I usually eat. I like lunch about 11:30, but Thanksgiving is always in the afternoon at 1:00 or 2:00. As a child I could never understand how my mother and grandmother got away with that. Weren’t they hungry themselves?

Now, as the cook in the family, I know the answer. You taste everything you make to check the seasonings. When you’re making a feast, you taste a lot. The truth is . . . You’ve been fed before everyone else even makes it to the table.

In Matthew 14, a lot of people are hungry. Picture a crowd at a Black Friday sale . . . at an Apple store . . . where I-Pads and MacBooks are going for . . . Oh, I don’t know . . . Let’s say, FREE. Yeah, now there’s a crowd.

And they’ve been waiting for three days to get in. They haven’t eaten, but they’re not losing their place in line, so they stand there, waiting.

Now you get it? This is one hungry crowd.

Then the store manager shows up with sausage and egg biscuits and passes them first to the employees. Yep. . . .The employees. Because you have to feed the workers before you ever satisfy the crowd.

Jesus took the fishes and bread, gave thanks, and then handed them to his disciples. I’m not sure when Jesus ate, but I’m pretty sure the disciples ate before the crowd.

Sometimes I feel bad spending so much time in prayer and devotional reading. I know not everyone gets the chance to focus on the Word like I do. But really, I’m in the back room assembling biscuits for a hungry crowd. I can attempt to feed everyone else, but I have to eat first. And if it takes me a little longer, maybe say I need some cheese on my sandwich, it’s ok. Because at the end my spirit is full. I have something to feed you with.

Now sally on up to the table. Feed yourself. The feast awaits.

And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Matthew 14:19-20

The Great Sloppy Joe Debacle of ’88

gourds-949112__340The turkey is deboned, the china back in its place, and pie crumbs swept away. Our family celebrates Thanksgiving as a small affair, just the four of us. We dress for the meal, talk and eat, share what we are thankful for, and stare across the family table at the ones we love and sometimes love to hate.

Family. Family is what Thanksgiving always meant to me. Our feasts included both sides of the family when I was very young, and later, was spent with my mother’s side of the family. There was no traditional annual fare, no particular time of sharing, no special game to play. Just family.

So in 1988, when several family members were unable to meet, we just sort of canceled Thanksgiving. It wasn’t mortifying. I wasn’t scarred, sent into a spiraling hole of dark depression. We just agreed not to meet.

Then, schedules were unexpectedly revamped, and Thanksgiving was back on again. I asked the guy I was dating if he would like to go to my family’s house for Thanksgiving. His family was meeting at his grandparents’ house with his brother and parents and his all male cousins. I think it was an easy decision for him, to be honest.

We pulled up to the house, cars lined in the large, grassy yard. “Hello! Come in,” everyone called as we walked in the front door.

I was hugged, the young man introduced, and the family “catching up” commenced. It went well. The usual stragglers came in fifteen minutes late and we gathered round the long table to pray. Then everyone took a seat and started passing the food: green beans, salad, apple sauce, pasta salad, and sloppy joes. Store bought pumpkin pie finished it off.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On the ride back home, the young man asked if that was a regular Thanksgiving for my family.

“Pretty much. Why?”

“Don’t you have turkey? Or mashed potatoes and gravy? . . . Maybe lima beans?”

I’m pretty sure his voice quivered.

“Uh, well, yeah, usually. But not limas. It’s just that we weren’t planning to have Thanksgiving this year so it was a sort of last minute thing. There wasn’t time for a turkey and all the trimmings.”

Poor guy. It was his first time to miss Thanksgiving with his family and it was NOT what he had expected. He had given up his traditions: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, limas, and  . . . blackberry pie. Homemade blackberry pie. His grandmother’s homemade blackberry pie.

I pulled him back from the precipice.

Life went on for both of us. In fact, life went on together for both of us. So I guess it wasn’t the end of the world, which is the way he tells it.

He has never missed turkey, potatoes and gravy, or limas since. I have made sure of it. His Thanksgiving always includes a blackberry pie. Yes, homemade. We even have cranberry sauce, even though no one else in the family likes it.

Because this is our tradition.

Today as I sat at the table surrounded by my children, eating the same meal we have every year, I realized that my family Thanksgiving and that young man’s Thanksgiving have merged into a new tradition. One where we treasure each other’s company above our own wish for a particular celebration.

Sloppy Joes may not be what you expect for Thanksgiving, but like that first ramshackle Thanksgiving meal four hundred years ago, they bonded us together forever.

May you find your own traditions to bind you to those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thankful Thanksgiving

I grew up in the north central part of West Virginia, about an hour each from Pennsylvania and Maryland. In late September the first yellow twinges of color dot the hillsides as the trees prepare for their last hoorah before the cold winter overtakes them. All through October the reds and golds shine brilliantly during sunny, autumn days. Then cold, frosty nights turn the bright colors to dreary browns, and the leaves float to the ground to cover the previous years’ mulch. By the time Halloween is over with, so is Fall.

Now that I live in the South, I realize that Thanksgiving is a fall festival for much of the country. It is easier to recognize your blessings when the sun shines down on red and gold leaves. The wind may blow cold briskness through my britches, but blessings are in abundance and the sky is blue and bright. IMG_20131123_103402874

This year I am especially thankful for the publishing of my first book, Devotions Of a Gerbil. I am thankful that I managed to teach one kid well enough that he has been accepted into a college. I am grateful that my happy marriage includes a now safely diabetic husband. I am pleased that my younger son is doing well in school and has good friends. I am grateful for friends who encourage and support me in whatever I try. And I am extremely thankful that I serve a God who thinks me worthy of being his servant.

Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom  which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an  acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.