Giving Thanks

ThanksgivingWe each have our favorite ways to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Each tradition brings families closer as we gather to be thankful for what God has blessed us with during the year.

Like many other Americans the third Thursday in November we give thanks for our blessings throughout the year.  Thanksgiving is a beautiful part of our American heritage in thanking God for a bountiful harvest. 

When I was growing up we did not have much.  My dad’s favorite quote was “why is there so much month left at the end of the money” he even had it on a plate that always hung in our home. There were times that we had breakfast for supper (which I still enjoy today!), and a German meal called Eintopf (one pot) basically a meat broth base that has whatever is in your kitchen thrown in – still a favorite. 

But Thanksgiving, we would always have turkey; during our lean times and during our times of plenty.  And trust me every part of that turkey was used for meals for over a week. We would have a table filled to the brim of all the holiday fixings. I can still hear my mother saying how she never understood the holiday and why we only have turkey once a year and why do we need to eat it to be thankful.  Never one to really like turkey she once told me every year she always tried to get my dad to get a ham. Yet when dad passed away we still had turkey. Traditions gotta love them!

We may have struggled all year but there were many blessings to be thankful for.  The year my mother had her first heart attacked, thankful she survived.  Then there was the year my father passed away and my brother killed in an accident, when it was hard to find thanks – we found God’s blessings.  My faith still growing and being attacked by other events, I could not understand how a loving God could take half of my family away.  But blessings were found in His presence and in the love between a mother and a sister.  I would have to say that was the first time I saw God. He was in each face of the people who gave us comfort, support and food. I would see God’s face many times in my life; in the doctors and nurses who cared for me when I was battling breast cancer and in the pouring of love from close friends and strangers when my husband passed away. And every day in-between in the different way God reveals Himself to all of us, I see Him.

There are many joys to be thankful for; parents who cared for us the best way they could, finding a godly man to share my life with and my children are just a few.  I am thankful for our Heavenly Father who sees to our needs and provided a way for all of us to be in a restored relationship with Him, through His Son, Jesus. 

We can have thankful hearts toward God even when we do not feel thankful for our circumstances. We can grieve and still be thankful. We can hurt and still be thankful. We can be angry at sin and death, still being thankful toward God. Scripture calls it a “sacrifice of praise” – “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name”. Hebrews 13:15.

Giving thanks to God keeps our hearts in a right relationship with Him and saves us from a host of harmful emotions and attitudes that will rob us of the peace God wants us to experience.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6–7

This Thanksgiving when you gather with friends and family offer your sacrifice of praise to our Lord.  Then the day after Thanksgiving make it a daily practice. Lift praises to God during the times of blessings and the times of trial.  And watch God at work in your life. 

Greet each day with thanksgiving remembering what Jesus did for you.   

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Traditions

Norman-Rockwell-Thanksgiving-thanksgiving-2927689-375-479Here I am getting ready for the second holiday season without Tom. In 35 years of marriage we have only missed two wedding anniversaries, two Christmas’s and one Thanksgiving and one New Year. Not bad for a military wife, but then he only served active duty for part of our marriage before serving the rest of his career in the PA National Guard. Lets face it, although I am proud of the National Guard and all the work they do in their states and across the sea, it is a lot easier being married to a weekend warrior then a full-time soldier.

In that 35 yrs we have made some new traditions while keeping some of the old traditions. When I was growing up we did not have many old family traditions.  Coming from a military family and a grandmother with “itchy” feet my father’s family was thrown to the four corners of the earth. My mother being from Germany never celebrated Thanksgiving so it was a new experience for her. My father was raised in the depression had a very difficult life so I always thought it was his dream to have the traditional Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.

Dad would always buy the biggest turkey, no matter how tight the household budget. He would cook everything in that turkey including the bone for his turkey soup. To this day I cannot eat stuffing, turkey soup or homemade gravy after I helped him one Thanksgiving – he literally used all the “extra’s” that come with the turkey, for flavor he would say, but that did not encourage me.

Now mom on the other hand was not a turkey connoisseur , I can still hear her say why do we have to eat turkey? But always wanting to become American she adapted. I am sure dad taught her everything she needed to know to make the best roast turkey this side of the Atlantic Ocean. She never did understood the concept of eating turkey only once a year. I always assumed they compromised for Christmas by having ham instead of turkey or the Christmas goose.

There is a clip in a movie “Avalon” which is a movie about Polish Immigrants that reminds me of my mother. Change the accent to German and I can almost hear my mother say “I don’t understand this holiday…we don’t eat turkey all year why do I have it eat now”.

movie clip ~ I will never understand this holiday

So our Thanksgiving holiday was a table filled with all the traditional Thanksgiving Day foods and our family of 5 would eat leftovers it seemed for weeks, although I am sure it was only days afterward.  My sister and I would normally argue over who was to wash or dry the many dishes dad left for us.  Dad would say you can tell a good cook by how many dishes and pots he used…well if that is true, then my dad was a master chef!

Tom comes from a traditional American family, big dinner of turkey and ham, tables filled with food that everyone brought, family gathered around, cousins running all over the place, along with a kids table, I am sure. He was amazed when I told him I was not that fond of turkey. Poor guy did not realize he was not going to have turkey for Christmas, ham would become our  traditional Christmas dinner. He never complained as long as he had his homemade pumpkin pie, his favorite holiday pie. Being newly married and wanting to impress him since he said his mother never made homemade pies I made my Aunt Marty’s pumpkin pie from scratch…from then on I would bake all my pies from scratch using love as my secret ingredient. For 35 yrs, we would have pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and one year I surprised him and made him one for his birthday!

The only time we did not have turkey was for our first Thanksgiving, we had chicken. This was before you could buy turkey breasts or smaller turkeys. I would start baking my pies the day before and instead of homemade stuffing we had stove top. Although I do remember the first time I made homemade stuffing I burnt it…don’t ask me how, I followed the directions and sticking to my convictions I used store-bought broth instead of making my own.

It is time to make new traditions but keeping the many happy memories of the past Thanksgivings.  I remember my parents, my brother and Tom with tears, laughter, and smiles. My traditions are not like the Norman Rockwell pictures or from what is shown in holiday movies.  But like how all traditions are started, both my old and the new ones my children and I will make together, they all start from the love I have for them.

My children and I will still have turkey with all the trimmings and instead of pumpkin pie this year I am making a pumpkin roll. Instead of football it will be watching all the traditional Christmas movies, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, It Happened On Fifth Avenue”, “Christmas in Connecticut” and to keep things silly “A Christmas Story”. 

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? I would enjoy hearing about all the different ways we celebrate, including my Canadian friends.  For my friends across the world, do you also celebrate a thanksgiving holiday?

The Day After Thanksgiving

I dedicate this song to everyone who waits until Thanksgiving to play Christmas music, decorate and start their shopping!

You can thank my son for giving me the CD – now I will think of all of you with smiles as I listen to this song and secretly sing to you “It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas”!!

You know I love all of you! 😀 

“The Day After Thanksgiving” by Brandon Heath
 
There’s still plenty of leaves
Golden on the trees
Hoodies, blue jeans and football
Bonfires and school nights
Scarecrows and hayrides
It’s fall everywhere except the mall

I don’t want to hear about Santa Claus coming
No silver bells or a dozen drummers drumming
I don’t want to see an inflatable nothing
Till the day after Thanksgiving
(And not a day early)

Don’t plug in those electric candles
Or dangle those stockings from the living room
Those tangled up lights are more than I can handle
Till the day after Thanksgiving

Then oh let it snow
Go and tell everyone you know
That Christmas is here
Every day between now and new year

Don’t deck the halls with the tinsel or the holly
You can make me grumpy but you can’t make me jolly
Elves don’t even make curly haired dollies
Till the day after Thanksgiving

Then oh let it snow
Christmas card, everyone you know
Then pour on the cheer
Every day between now and new year

I want the cookies and the mistletoe kissing
Angel on top of a tall tree glisten
Wrap it all up in a pretty red ribbon
The day after Thanksgiving

(You can put antlers on your car for all I care)
As long as its the day after Thanksgiving

Thankful

I have had a nice day reading about what every one is thankful for.  It filled my heart as I read the articles. And so, I began to reflect on my own blessings.

As I thought of my past, I am thankful for my first breath and that God created me for this time and for the family He gave me. As I live in the present, I am thankful for the strength to over come health issues and difficulties, for the blessings of laughter, joy and the love shared with friends.  And as I look ahead to my future, I am thankful for the hope that is found only in Jesus Christ .  My soul rejoices that Jesus Christ His Son has walked with me my entire life.  The road has been rocky at times and many times there were only one set of footprints on my path, but through it all I knew I was not alone, God had not forsaken me and for that I will be eternally grateful.  Today through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, I am strong in my faith and I love my God, our Father, with all my heart and soul.

This Thanksgiving as we all gather together in our homes and with our loved ones let us ask for God’s blessings, and sing praises to His Name, to our Leader Triumphant.

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with Thanksgiving” Psalm 69:30

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever”  1 Chronicles 16:34

“I always thank God for you (my new friends) because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus” I Corinthians 1:4

This is one of my many favorite hymns, I would like to share it with you, so let us all sing …as “We Gather Together”