The First Thanksgiving

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It was the first Thanksgiving after my parents’ divorce. My husband and I arrived at my dad’s new apartment with our toddler son in tow. A turkey was already thawing in the sink of the galley kitchen. As the only female present, head chef duties for our Thanksgiving dinner fell to me. One big problem, I had no experience in this role. I knew how to assist my mom and mother-in-law in the kitchen. But to take charge and to have full responsibility for this once a year shot at meal perfection was daunting.  I had no choice. I went to work. The first task was that expensive turkey my dad complained about. I read the fine print only to discover that he bought a pre-stuffed turkey. Back in the freezer it went until the proper time for baking. (We still laugh about this mishap years later!) I didn’t cut corners. We had the full Thanksgiving meal experience. All these years later, I don’t remember the details anymore, but I think that simply means that everything went well and as expected. We had more food than we could possibly eat. We ate too much. We munched on leftovers for days. I remember this particular Thanksgiving as the transition for when I became the “mom” of the kitchen for family holidays. I learned the fine art of timing, because really that’s what the Thanksgiving meal is all about from a pure mechanics standpoint. Get it on the table: baked, warm and everything done at the same time. Sit back and enjoy the food and the company. I’m sure our prayers for that first Thanksgiving included thanks for life going on after setbacks, the importance of family and those joining you at the dinner table and that unexpected detours in life can still be good. There was one more prayer request, at least on my mind. I quietly uttered a prayer between God and me, “Please don’t let anyone get sick from my cooking.” And God granted my request filling me with even more Thanksgiving.

 

1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!  Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”  And God granted his request. 

 

Psalm 69:30

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

What Does Your Box Hold?

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It was a lofty goal, but I managed to stick to it. Before I packed away any box again, I sorted it. There have been many boxes to go through as we settle into our new house. I have rediscovered the missing and the forgotten. I have been surprised by the memories contained in those boxes. In the process, I have learned more about who I was at different stages of my growing up years. Here’s a sample peek at a young Debbie of elementary age:

1)      I used to write my name backwards. (Must have been a “leftie” thing! And it is a trick that I can still do today!)

2)      I loved Paul R., the boy next door, but he did not love me back.

3)      I loved hockey even more than the neighbor boy. (Who has a scrapbook for hockey? Who keeps hockey pucks as mementos? I did!)

4)      I wasn’t always so good at math. (I’ll have to pitch that quiz!)

5)      I have always loved dessert. (My diary reads like a tally of desserts enjoyed!)

What does my life today reveal to others? What do my priorities say about my character? Do my actions demonstrate that I care more about people than stuff? Most importantly, am I creating new memories that celebrate God’s goodness in my life? If my life was a box to store memories, what would it hold? Would it be overflowing the top and sides bulging with extra tape needed to hold it all in? It should be for God blesses in abundance.

 

 1 Thessalonians 3:6

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.

 

Philemon 6

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. 

 

 

The Cast Iron Griddle

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The cast iron griddle is synonymous with Grams.  My husband’s grandmother died eight years ago, but I can still conjure up vivid memories. That vintage seasoned griddle was used to make pancakes generously sprinkled with freshly picked huckleberries. The best pancakes in the world were churned out for grandkids, followed by the great-grandkids.  I miss Grams.  I miss summer vacations spent in the West Virginia mountains.  I miss the childhood of my now grown boys. That cast iron griddle represented the sweet in home sweet home.

My husband and I were looking for home sweet home.  We were ready to downsize from a big house to a comfortably smaller house.  Plans were made.  However, oftentimes life doesn’t go according to the best laid plans.  Our old house sold before we could find a new one. As we continued our house search, we had to settle for the temporary arrangements of apartment living. Keepsakes, memories and the practical stuff we couldn’t fit into a too cozy apartment were tucked away in boxes piled from floor to ceiling in a storage unit. Our home sweet home of the past nine years, and actually, our entire married life, filled a ten by thirty foot space, waiting to be rediscovered at the opportune time.

I hadn’t used it in years.  I wiped off the dust and then applied a coating of vegetable oil in a feeble attempt to add years of seasoning. Time can not be rushed, but it was the closest I could get to Gram’s griddle.  My cast iron griddle was only fifteen years old with much fewer memories.  However, it was now time to add some fresh memories: the memories of 2013. We welcomed a daughter-in-law into the family. We said goodbye to my mom.  I reconciled with my sister.  We sold our house. We moved into an apartment.  Our kids festively decorated pancakes on Christmas Eve morning. It is the sweet memories and even the bittersweet ones that define life and fill our home.

Home is more than just a physical or permanent address. Home sweet home is found in the relationships of those dearest to us. The sweetest home is one where hearts are open to an ever-expanding circle of love through shared history, new traditions, genuine laughter, and in our family, a cast iron griddle.  Come to think of it, we have been enjoying home sweet home all along.

1 Thessalonians 3:6

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.

Psalm 45:17

I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.