Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Giver

I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sig praise to Your name, O Most High.
~Psalm 9:1-2
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was my most favorite holiday.  It was about family and food.  

It was the day that began with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  Can I tell you I used to think that parade was the most grandest thing ever?!  Keep in mind it was the early 80s, it was a farming community in the middle of rural Georgia and we did not have cable TV, only the major channels on the turn dial.  And I didn't get out very much.  

And then we would go to Pa and Grandmother's house.  We would eat turkey and dressing and all the trimmings and ambrosia and pound cake for dessert.  The menu was the same year after year after year.  It's funny to me.  Whenever I came to Louisiana, people talked about eating all. the. time.  We'd be eating breakfast, and the conversation would be about what's for supper!  I quickly learned that eating is a way of life here.  The first thing Seth does when he gets home from work is rattle my pots to see what's for supper.  People here live to eat.  I ate some good food when I was growing up, and my mama and both of my grandmothers were outstanding cooks.  But I ate to live.  However, Thanksgiving was the day that I lived to eat!  All of the adults would sit at that long table that stretched the length of the dining room, and the eight of us cousins would sit at the kid table in the kitchen.  There were place cards for everyone.  It didn't matter that we all sat in the exact same seat year after year, holiday after holiday.  There were always place cards.  I used to think it was so weird that other families didn't have place cards!  The cousins and I would play and stomp all through that rambling farm house.

And then we would go to Granddaddy and MeMama's house for supper.  We'd always watch the lighting of the tree at Rich's Department Store.  It sat on top of the crystal bridge.  And then it was the lighting of the Macy's tree.  And then it moved to Underground.  I don't think they even do it anymore.  Besides, I always thought it was the best when it sat on the crystal bridge.  The choirs would sing, each level would light up and finally the tree would light at the end, usually on the high note of O Holy Night.  Granddaddy would pop popcorn for us.  His popcorn was always the best.  This was before you popped a bag in the microwave.

Thanksgiving Day was the same from the earliest memories I have all the way until I moved to Louisiana in 2000.  The. Same.  It was always such a grand day in my mind.  The parade, the food, the family, the tree lighting . . . it all sounds so simple.  But it is so much bigger than that in my memories.

I find myself on this day trying to recreate as much of my childhood as I can.  I turned on the parade this morning and begged my children to watch it with me.  Mason was not impressed.  At all.  I'm not sure if Hannah Kate really enjoyed it or if she was just humoring me because she knew how badly I wanted her to watch it with me.  I spent the last two days in my kitchen so I wouldn't have to spend so much time in there today.  I made the cornbread dressing, which is just my absolutely favorite Thanksgiving food.  No one makes it as good as Grandmother did.  I have tried and tried.  But it's not the same.  I have to say, though, that this year's was most definitely the closest I have gotten.  I made squash casserole and broccoli and rice casserole.  I made sweet potato casserole for Seth.  I looked at him yesterday and told him that I'd finally figured out what was missing this year.  Corn.  Grandmother would also "put some Silver Queen corn up" so we could enjoy it at the Thanksgiving table.  And this year I made a pumpkin cheesecake.  No one cared for it except me.

We ate lunch with Seth's parents and grandmother.  It was a small, quiet Thanksgiving (well, as quiet as anything can be with Mason, Hannah Kate and Ellie, which is not very!).  And since LSU has decided to begin a new tradition this year, the football game is currently on my TV instead of a tree lighting somewhere.     

No.  She didn't eat all of that food.  She ate the fries.  And three bites of turkey.  And then she was done and down.
No, your eyes do not deceive you.  Turkey, french fries and rolls.  I can't even.  I mean, French fries?!

Tonight when I put the children to bed, I asked them to name some things they are thankful for.  Mason wanted to go first.  He said he was thankful that Jesus died on the cross for his sins and also for his family.  My cousins are laughing right now.  Even though he eats French fries on Thanksgiving, he's definitely my child, as evidenced in that answer.  But I know him, and I also know that's his honest and true answer.  Hannah Kate gave a rather lengthy list.  It started with Jesus, the Bible, her family, friends, Thanksgiving, Christmas, her birthday and then went on from there.  I finally had to ask her to stop so Ellie could have a turn.  Ellie said she was thankful for PawPaw, MawMaw and Thanksgiving.  And then she said Thanksgiving another 20 times.  I think she just enjoyed saying such a big word!

If I were to list all of the things, the people I am thankful for . . . well, I already know I can't do that.  Inevitably, I'd forget someone or something.  For the believer, Thanksgiving is more than remembering that first meal the Pilgrims ate with the Indians.  

It's about the Giver . . .

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself,
according to the good pleasure of His will,
to the praise of the glory of His grace,
by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of His grace
which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
having made known to us the mystery of His will,
according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times 
He might gather together in one all things in Christ,
both which are in heaven and which are on earth - in Him.
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance,
being predestined according to the purpose of Him
who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
In Him you also trusted,
after you heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation;
in whom also, having believed,
you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
who is the guarantee of our inheritance
until the redemption of the purchased possession,
to the praise of His glory.
~Ephesians 1:3-14

It's about the One who gave all simply because He loves.

Because, for the believer, Thanksgiving is not just the fourth Thursday in November.  It's everyday.  Everyday my life and my heart should reflect an attitude of gratitude and humility to the One who has so graciously and so generously given me all.  I have to be honest though.  Sometimes (well, many times) it seems like gratitude isn't rising up nearly as much as selfishness and pride.  Gratitude gets lost in the midst of complaining.  Oh, the complaining.  

But I am grateful.  I truly am.  I can't put words to it.  When I look around me, when I think about those three blessings asleep upstairs - the ones I'd start with first if I was making a list - and when I think about the man I'll soon fall asleep beside, the parades and the food and the tree lighting all begin to pale in comparison.  And when I think about the One who gave His very life for me . . . died in my place . . . because He wanted to spend forever with me . . . and then he blessed me with all of this . . . I am speechless.  

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