I find it a pretty easy task to celebrate the majority of our holidays in the good ol’ USA. I work for a bank, so I get the opportunity to partake in just about every holiday you can think of in this country. For me, it’s not a hard sell; you give me a day off and I can make the most of it, I’ll guarantee it! Celebration runs in my blood. It must! Out of all the American Holiday’s, I do have a favorite though, one that is a cut above the rest. This particular holiday is just a tad bit more filling and sweeter in my opinion than the others. It also probably has something to do with this holiday falling within my favorite season, Autumn. The Holiday that I’m most thankful for is Thanksgiving.
My memory of Thanksgiving runs back as far as I can remember to when I was a child and every year, my Mom, Dad, Brother and I would travel about 30 minutes down the country back roads of Northeast Texas to have Thanksgiving dinner with my Grandparents in a little community called Monkstown. The atmosphere was always so warm and inviting, I can still almost smell and taste all the goodness from that old house to this very day. We did this for about 15 years, until they moved to be closer to my parents and my brother and I moved to Big D to be a little further away from everyone:-). We had other family in Monkstown as well for many of those years, Great-Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc, that you would very rarely, if ever see if you didn’t see them at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Example – It’s been 10 years now since we’ve had a Thanksgiving in Monkstown and I don’t think I have seen a single one of them in person since (save maybe a funeral). This is a bit sad I know, but the majority of the family that I’m aware of just aren’t the reuniting type. I share the blame at this as well, but maybe one day this will change.
In 2005, my soon to be wife and I decided to host our first Thanksgiving together with both sides of our family. We both wanted to have family gatherings similar to what we had growing up and since we didn’t want to trade-off every other year we thought “why not bring them over to our house”. My wife is from West Texas and I’m from Northeast Texas, so being in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area it made sense to us for everyone to “meet in the middle”. This inaugural gathering of our families worked out really well as we had a dozen or more family members who are rarely at the same place, at the same time, to get a chance to fellowship together with some who had never even met each other before.
Fast forward to 2012 and we are extremely blessed to be hosting our 7th annual Thanksgiving this year (for more on the significance of the #7 check out my friend Coley’s recent post 7 onto 8). We have always had a dozen or so join us every year and that doesn’t look like its changing this year either. My family has grown by two (3 if we count the dog) since 2005 and it seems we always have a new face or two join us each year to make up for someone else who couldn’t make it this time around. We cherish these few precious hours that we get to spend in this setting once a year.
Starting back in 2008 (minus last year due to a last-minute weather change) we have made the Capital One Bank/Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot a part of our Thanksgiving Day tradition. This is a fun way to “shotgun” start the day with 40,000 of our “friends” from our “community”. In addition to the Turkey Trot, we wanted to find a way to extend this holiday a bit more and have something unique to do with whoever would be free or in town early on the night before our big day. A couple of months ago, Elizabeth and I came up with the idea to have a “Pilgrim Party” the night before Thanksgiving – a throwback party 1621 style to usher in the holiday for us. I had originally sat down to write this post about what this Pilgrim Party might “look” like and then my thoughts were taken in the direction of everything else you’ve read up to this point. The basic idea of the Pilgrim Party is to have an “original” type Thanksgiving meal somewhat similar to what we now call that first Thanksgiving. This would include a brief look at the history, type of dress, menu selections (you might be surprised what they had and didn’t have to eat), games, etc. Lord willing I will get a post out about our Pilgrim Party experience at some point.
For now though, this holiday is upon us. Take the time to reflect in the midst of the prep and business (in a day or two its only going to get crazier for the next month). Collect your thoughts and count your blessings. Be joyful and grateful. Smile big and laugh hard. Have light conversations and deep ones. See to remember, listen well and breathe in deeply your surroundings. Be thankful for others and yourself. Be thankful for someone or many and make sure they know it. Be thankful on Thanksgiving, but not only on Thanksgiving. Be thankful daily. Be thankful to Him Who makes all things according to His will for His glory!
Happy Thanksgiving 2011!