Saturday, November 24, 2007

Earlier in the week I had nostalgic thoughts about Thanksgiving and the sad, lonely feelings past Thanksgivings brought. I remembered being in a story telling workshop at an older adult conference and the leader used Thanksgiving as her tool to get people to remember and talk. Getting people to tell stories is a good way to get to know them and listening to those stories is a good way to let people know you value them. There were probably 30 to 40 people in the workshop and I was just about the last person in the circle to speak. By the time I had heard all the other Thanksgiving memories I was so emotional I could hardly speak. The others talked of traditions, good food, being with family and togetherness. My memories included those things, but also how lonely I was, even in the midst of others.

I grew up in a single parent home mostly. My parents divorced when I was almost nine, I lived two years with an aunt and uncle and the rest of the time wished I was still with them. They were my family; they gave me a home when I needed it most; their tradition became my tradition; my aunt's table represented the proverbial "groaning board"; and I learned from them the importance of family togetherness. So when Thanksgiving came and it was just my mother and me I was sad and lonelier than usual.

In the workshop that day I dredged up memories that had long been buried. They were too sad to be remembered--or so I thought. What I remembered most was the loneliness I felt whether I was literally by myself while my mother worked on Thanksgiving, whether I was with some of my father's family or whether I was one of many having dinner at the home of a friend's grandmother. But there was also this one memory that seemed to push its way to the front of my mind, saying, "I'm most important. Remember me."

My mother was a nurse. She worked long hours, sometimes double shifts just so we could make ends meet. Among other things, she was a wonderful cook and made the best spaghetti sauce and apple pie ever. If she asked me what I wanted, those were my choices--even for Thanksgiving. Having spaghetti with apple pie for dessert and inviting four or five of my friends for supper Thanksgiving night became our tradition. I can still taste the good food, but that's not the best part of the memory. The best part is remembering the mother who could pull off dinner for me and my friends after being on her feet all day.

That workshop has prompted me every year to remember Thanksgivings past. The loneliness I used to feel was replaced when I started my own family 40+ years ago and the sadness that long had been such a huge memory has been replaced with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what I have--family and friends who care and a wonderful life. God has outdone himself blessing me.

There were ten of us at our house on Thursday: Tommy and Liz and their five children, a friend from our church and us. It was a great day!

Here are some of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving 2007:
  • It was our first one here and marked the first anniversary of our arriving on Thanksgiving evening last year.
  • It was the first meal with all the family (intown) around the dining room table.
  • Jacob made a brine for the turkey and helped his dad make the dressing--yummy!
  • Jacob and Sarah rode their scooters down early and Sarah helped me finish the table.
  • Drew loved PawPaw's sweet potatoes and ate two helpings before most of us had one.
  • Meredith had a wonderful time pulling the felts off the kitchen cabinets. Every time one bangs shut I see her working hard to get the pad unstuck.
  • Little E slept through it all.
  • Our church friend brightened our day with her presence.
  • I followed the progress of Marty's preparations for their dinner in Raleigh through her blog. She cooks enough to feed an army.
  • We heard from friends both near and far.
  • The silver gravy boat I used was a wedding gift from my high school friend. Using it brought to mind the Thanksgivings I had spent with her and the sadness is gone.

It was a Thanksgiving to remember!! I hope yours was.


Pastor Margaret

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