Tomorrow is my favorite holiday of the year. Yes, I even love it more than Christmas. I would like to say that’s because I am not into consumerism or have somehow transcended the desire for material things, but its nothing nearly that noble. I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because my fondest memories of growing up are from that day.
Usually I would spend the night with my Grandma and Pop a night or two before Thanksgiving so I would be there for the cooking Palooza. The preparation would begin a full day before the meal would be served. I still have no idea how my grandma fed 25 to 30 family members an absolutely succulent thanksgiving meal from that tiny kitchen of hers. But she did so with military precision. Dinner was NEVER late and NEVER anything less than perfect.
A memory came to me very early this morning that I hadn’t thought of in decades. I was lying in bed at grandma’s. I guess I was 9 or 10. It was early, still dark outside my window. I had been awakened by the clanging of a pot lid and the pungent smell of celery and onions cooking. She must have been preparing them for inclusion in the dressing. I am ashamed to admit this now, but I remember being annoyed, maybe even a bit angry. Didn’t grandma know I was trying to sleep? And that smell was so strong! “Uggh. Who wants to smell that this early in the morning,” I thought. I know…what an ingrate. Like I said, I am embarrassed by it now.
Do you have any idea what I would give to smell that smell and hear that pot lid clang tomorrow morning? I would run to the kitchen and give her a great big hug and sit down with her and have a cup of coffee and talk as the cooking commenced. Then later in the day, how great would it be to see the old house filled once more with all the cousins and aunts and uncles that used to gather there.
Oh well…someday, in another place, at another feast.
Here are some things I am thankful for: I’m thankful first and foremost for salvation through Jesus Christ. I am thankful for family and friends as we all are.
I’m thankful for a dog that follows every step you make, even when you are pushing the mower around, who is happy for a ten minute walk in the cold with you, even if that’s all the entertainment he gets that day.
I’m thankful that I’ve gotten to experience what its like to sing in a quartet when the harmony is right, push two hundred head of cattle with a good horse beneath me, be with my son when he bagged his first gobbler and several more since, to speak to an auditorium full of people when you said something that brought them to their feet and you know that you’ve made a connection, to have worked hard in a foreign land alongside other men when the goal was to demonstrate the love of Christ. And I’m thankful for Rosebower Baptist Church. The best most loving church I have ever been a
part of or ever will be a part of.
This year I’m thankful for other things too, though it’s hard to say so. I’m thankful for the valleys and what God teaches us when we are there. But more than that, I am thankful that he brings us out of them. I’m thankful for roads that lead home, though not often enough, and for precious memories that don’t fade. I’m thankful for the trials that shape us, even when they hurt and are hard. Like the night I threw my graduation cap into the air and time stopped as as I caught it because as I looked around at my classmates I knew something they didn’t, that in mere days I would be moving far away and that I would never see most of them ever again. I cried on the ride home. And sadly, I’ve only seen a few of them since.
I’m thankful for a mountain ridge top one snowy morning at daybreak when I randomly let a Gideon Bible fall open and read these words from John 1:4-5 “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shown in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” And in that exact second the orange ball of the rising sun climbed over a distant mountain peak and blinded me with its brilliance. It was one of the greatest spiritual moments in my life.
I’m thankful for another snowy ridge in Kentucky when I stopped bird hunting and watched as big fat snowflakes fell into Racetrack Hollow (LBL) and the world was amazingly silent and the beauty made me forget about hunting. I knelt on one knee to take it in and my bird dog, Rebel, who was a hard charger and who never took a break in the field, came and leaned against me. I knew he was taking in the scene too and we sat like that for at least 15 minutes, just still, and in awe.
I could go on and on. But I’m thankful for grandma and Pop’s house and that I got to know so many of those Thanksgivings, that I can remember how my heart raced the first time I reached out and held Tracy’s hand, that I got to live in this country during times when it was perhaps at its greatest, for little country churches and men’s prayer breakfasts in the valley down in Talbot County Georgia, for old trucks, for Southern Gospel, for Hee Haw reruns because I used to watch that with Pop and they take me back there, for the entire summer I spent 12 hours a day on a tractor and ate lunch at a country store with a chest cooler where the green coke bottles had flecks of ice on them.
And I’m very thankful I like writing and that occasionally I write something that someone enjoys reading.