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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother | Tag Archive | Thanksgiving
Tag Archive - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Backwards, Forwards, and Now

I’m never alone when I’m cooking or knitting; if no one is there, I chat with God in continuous prayer. Those are the most inspirational moments of my life. This Thanksgiving, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do in my life.
Eternal clock

Back

I think back on 20 years of Thanksgivings with Richard and those early years with new babies and toddlers.

Ten years ago Thanksgiving, we had just moved back into our home after a fire. We had a couch and folding chairs in our living room. Two small, borrowed tables of different heights were in our kitchen with tablecloths. Our new refrigerator was delivered on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.

I had planned to replace most of my kitchen equipment on Black Friday, so cooking dinner was an exercise in creative use of borrowed pots and pans.

Our kids, ages 5 and 7, enjoyed being home instead of our temporary apartment. My son had broken his arm after a failed attempt pretending to be Adam West doing the Batman Bat Climb up our backyard slide with a jump rope. I had just hit a buck a couple of days before  with my car and was waiting on it to be fixed.

But we were home together.

Forwards

I’ve no idea what future years will bring. Our daughter leaves for college next fall. We don’t know whether she will be close to home or far away. This year, sometimes our large kitchen table is covered with food prep. Other times, it’s home base for a laptop and paperwork as my daughter completes college and scholarship applications.

Next year, at this time, we may be driving to a college to bring her home for Thanksgiving. Or she might venture from a local dorm to return home. As 1 of her former teachers told me last weekend, “She’s ready to spread her wings, go after her dreams, and soar. That means you did your job.”

As soon as she goes, we will begin the same journey of letting go with our son.

So our lives are on the cusp of change. God only knows where they will go or what they will do. This is our last Thanksgiving before the kids begin their own adventures.

Now

Enough pondering. Time to enjoy the here, the now, and to savor these precious, fleeting moments.

It’s time to give thanks for my family, given to me by God, who have utterly transformed my life and given me more joy than I ever imagined possible.

The giving of thanks often happens in the celebration of the simple moments at home, with those I love, in the now.

My Big Fat Getaway Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Turkeyphoto © 2006 Rich | more info (via: Wylio)
This is a Biever travel Thanksgiving story the year my mom won free hotel rooms in Nashville, Tennessee, several years ago.

Richard and I researched information, coupons, and maps and packed following our checklists. Welcome to my spontaneous trip.

We met at the hotel Thanksgiving afternoon. “Give us your hotel key,” my kids said. “You’ll lose it.”

When we reached my mom’s room, a crash slammed the door. In rode my sister, riding the luggage cart pushed by my brother. “Anyone wanna ride?”

For Thanksgiving night dinner, we went to Hard Rock Cafe. As we ate, Elizabeth pointed to a man outside, “Mom, why is he lying on the sidewalk when it’s night and 30 degrees outside?”

“I think he’s drunk.” He left a few minutes later.  Bruce Stringsteen screaming was the fa-rararara of my Thanksgiving story.

The next night, we went to the Melting Pot. Suddenly, my sister looked sick. I thought she was about to choke on bad food. Big sister mode in gear, I told her, “Spit it out. We’re family. It’s ok.”

She spit it out – the stem of a cherry, tied into a knot. Then she did the same to 3 more cherry stems and told us, “When I used to bartend, this guaranteed great tips.”

When we left the restaurant and got to the car, I realized I had lost my keys. So I raced back. The new guests tried to help, using their cell phones as lights. I found 2 napkins, plus the Santa pin from my coat, but no keys. Then Richard found my keys in my purse. He took them for safekeeping the duration of the trip.

Daytimes were culture clash. We scheduled  a museum, science center, zoo, and Parthenon. My siblings shopped. In the middle of the museum, my daughter complained, “Why don’t we get to go to the mall?”

“Malls make me cranky.” So I compromised. We went to the mall, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. My sister took my daughter shopping, and harmony was restored.

We had interesting family conversations with our kids afterwards. I assured my son tying a cherry stem into a knot in his mouth was a life skill he would not need.

That Thanksgiving will be memorable – the one without a turkey but lots of memories. My kids learned many other useful life skill, including how to take a trip without losing hotel keys, jewelry, and car keys.

That alone should be proof that God exists, and He is good.

Beyond Thanksgrieving

No family really lives a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving. Life is easier once you accept that.

Then the unbearable happens. We lose someone in our family’s holiday portrait. The first year is the hardest.  The bigger the presence, the bigger the gap. Sometimes at that first holiday we feel as though we will never laugh again. Joy is a memory. 

How do we get through a holiday when we’ve lost someone we love and our hearts are breaking?

This morning at church, I saw a family who lost their matriarch last week. Her husband, children, and grandchildren sat together starting this hardest of Thanksgivings together on their knees.  You see them there, together, every Thanksgiving, just as you do every Sunday.  Grandma would have been with them, singing and savoring her family. Kleenexes were in some hands.  When we stood up to sing, the youngest grand-daughter, sitting by her grandpa, grabbed his hand and gave him a big hug. 

It was like death was the Grinch who tried to steal their Thanksgiving, but Susie Who stood in the family circle and began singing.

If I could paint like Norman Rockwell, I would have painted the scene of a family, with an empty seat in the pew, helping one another get through the grief and the holiday.

Grief comes in waves. We can manage when it recedes. But when it laps close to the shore of our hearts, we sometimes feel as though we’re drowning. That’s where the beauty of helping one another through the grief can save us. Just  when I need it the most, you can throw me a lifeline which I’ll return to you when it’s your turn.

No one will ever fill that empty chair in the family portrait. We carry it with us. With time, and with each other’s help, it grows easier. The Thanksgrieving we endure now will eventually transform again to Thanksgiving, when we can thank God for our loved ones and what they gave us. Our suffering will one day help us better reach out to others in the same situation.

When your Thanksgiving becomes a year of Thanksgrieving, grab your Kleenex, and reach out for your loved ones.

We have been there too and will help you endure. You are not alone – never have been, never were. If we help each other, we can both again say more easily:

Happy Thanksgiving. And mean it.

Thankful for Pumpkins!

I am thankful for…

Pumpkins.

Pumpkins make me happy. From Labor Day through Thanksgiving, my home is decorated with them. They remind me of the most precious gifts in my life:

My son –a high school freshman, he began raising pumpkins several years ago.  He’s grown varieties from Baby Boo white ones to this year’s experiment with Prizewinner giants – a few of which had to be wheeled out of the garden and lifted by 2 men.  One of his Prizewinners won a Special Merit at the Indiana State Fair and was the largest pumpkin exhibited by an Indiana 4-H member this year. Nine of his pumpkins decorate our front porch, and two are the giant Prizewinners.  Every time I come home or leave, I see our pumpkins, and they make me smile. Another decorated the news set of a local meteorologist.

My daughter – a high school junior, makes pumpkin rolls and pies, which we’ll enjoy this Thanksgiving.

My husband Richard – all through the summer, as we take our son to his pumpkin patch, we watch him work and then get thrill of seeing his exhibit at the State Fair.

Our family – when the harvest is good, we get to share pumpkins with area family members.  Richard’s cousins in New York grow the super giant pumpkins and sent photos to us, which inspired our son to go for the big ones.

Our friends – One of our family friends hosts our son’s pumpkin patch in his large rural garden. He taught our son how to get started with pumpkins and raise them well. When we have a good harvest, we share the fun with pumpkin gifts for friends. Our yard is too small and shady for pumpkin raising.

Jack traded a cow for some bean seeds to grow the vine he climbed to kill a giant. Nothing that dramatic happens in the real world. Our pumpkin seeds cost less than a cow.  We can’t climb the vines and don’t kill giants.  But they are powerful.

This Thanksgiving, we’ll sit around the table, covered with a pumpkin tablecloth and decorated by a pumpkin-shaped candle. I’ll look across the table at Richard and thank God for the blessings our pumpkins remind me to appreciate.

Maybe, for an extra treat,  we’ll start a new family tradition: a pumpkin seed spitting contest!

What reminds you of your most precious gifts this Thanksgiving?

(Today, I was asked to be a guest blogger at Mom Got Blog, writing on the topic, I am thankful for… After I wrote my first piece, I also wrote this one.)