and a daughter, and dishes from my grandparents, and deep red cloth napkins...
for cranberries and lemons in pretty parfait glasses...
but mostly for my family whose presence made this day a beautiful celebration.
Every year until this one we have kept a tradition of using a construction paper leaf and writing five things we're thankful for. Then we share all five in order before we eat. This year I changed it up a bit, and I liked it better. We ate first, since we were hungry at 1:00 and the food was hot and ready.
After we'd had our fill, we went alphabetically around the table five times, each person sharing one thing per round. Five rounds took us a good hour, full of joy and thoughtful answers and love. Perhaps my favorite Thanksgiving ever.
While memories of the blessings shared are still fresh, I am going to try to journal them as best I can recall.
Ambrey was thankful for:
1. Steve (of course) , the godly man he is, smart, funny, hard-working, loving, the guy she can hardly wait to marry
2. her grandparents' example of a loving marriage that lasted for 68 years (her PopPop passed away a couple weeks ago)
3. school, her cohort and professors
4. her family and the one she'll be marrying into
5. modern luxuries, namely a comfy bed, hot showers, and running water--things she didn't have as short-term missionary in Zambia
1. his loving wife and the joy of being married , growing closer together
2. his job--good boss, coworkers, benefits, and the hope and possibility of a raise
3. great car (97 Audi) that's paid off and reliable
5. his own place, their place, to go home to
Deirdra (our very expressive new daughter-in-love) was thankful for:
1. Ben, what a great husband he is--hardworking and good provider; she doesn't work because she has to, but because she wants to right now
2. her mom's sacrifices as a single parent to give Dee and her twin a good life
3. her job as a nanny of adorable 8-month old twin boys
4. her boss's generosity in paying for the labor on her car repair
Ima (what the kids call my mom) said she was grateful for
2. my dad-- the way God brought them together and kept them together these 51 years, the man of godly character he is; his being her caregiver pretty much from April till October, when he was her nurse and working set of eyes after her corneal transplant surgeries
3. eyesight--especially being able to see the beauty of "templed hills" (from a line in "America the Beautiful" that's been playing her in mind) --the templed hills which she saw in Sedona, AZ, on a recent visit to my sister's place. She called it "Garden of the Gods on steroids." )
4. Joel's school and the classical Christian education he is getting that she wishes every child could have; the godly, mature adults that her grandchildren have become and who have chosen meaningful jobs to support themselves (so many of her friends' generation have grandkids who are demanding, listless, unemployed by choice, stealing drugs or money for drugs from the grandparents)
5. truce in Israel and safety for our friends who escaped to bomb shelters during the attacks this week
Jay said he was thankful for :
1. his wife Jill who is very good with finances
2. Jill's patience during hunting season
3. a boss who allowed him 17 days off to go hunting in Iowa this month
4. his truck
5. that we have only 4 more years of Obama and that he can't be reelected again ( a statement which we all cheered and clapped for!)
Jill, my beautiful blonde baby sister, was grateful for:
1. Jay cooperating with their debt-reduction plan
2. her job that has paid time off
3. Jay's housekeeping standards that make their home neat and clean (all 4 of us girls married neatnik, which is blessing but doesn't always feel like it when they're being "particular")
4. her family--the one she came from that started her on the right path
5. wisdom from God (not that she claimed to be wise, but let me just say that my baby sister is a wise young woman from whom I've learned a lot)
Joel (our 10-year-old baby who hates to pose for pictures) said:
1. his friends
2. video games
3. "me, myself, and I"
4. his family
5. Ben (his big brother and favorite person)
Pappaw (my dad, celebrating his 78th birthday) was thankful for:
2. his government job from which he retired that has allowed him and Mama to live comfortably in their "old age"
3. Mama -- her companionship, her putting up with his poor hearing, her intelligence and care, the children she produced
4. the unity in the congregation he pastors
5. freedom of speech
Insert a note here: I gave my dad my first landscape painting as a gift. He genuinely loved it. I forgot to take a picture of him opening it and delighting in it the same way he did when I was a little girl handing him a silly little picture of a house with a sun over top.
Paul, who loves to play chef, said:
1. his wife (aw, that's me!) and children (the paths they've chosen well without much guidance)
2. hobbies and skills that enrich his life, and knowledge of things he has learned that his parents did not teach him about (politics, economics, financial stewardship)
3. his job and that he's never been unemployed
4. a good night's sleep last night (in the midst of a respiratory ailment of late)
5. being able to thus far pay for our kids' college tuition without debt
Sarah, our one and only daughter whose eyes I love, was thankful for:
2. her teaching job and the people there (students, other faculty and staff, some of whom are fellow Christians)
3. that both sides of her family have long, committed marriages, something she doesn't see enough of in her generation, and even less in her students' generation). She noted that the best behaved kids in her class come from two-parent families. The majority of kids live with a mom, or a "mom and her friend" or , two moms (which the little girl said, "this one's my mom and that one's my dad").
4. her five senses
5. that God never changes in the midst of some major changes in her life (namely change in church, the only church she's ever gone to)
Steve, our recently engaged son and most studious one, said:
1. Ambrey (of course) and the joy of being engaged, looking forward to marriage and making a home with her
2. his job and the flexible hours and the pay that will support a wife
3. education, specifically biology this semester and how studying DNA and botany has increased His gratitude for God as genius designer
4. education, the joy of reading good literature (or hearing it on his commute) and studying theology for pleasure
5. his family
Yours truly said I'm thankful for:
1. my husband--he works hard whether on the job or at home; that he has made good choices in behavior that, I believe, have helped him stay employed, that he knows so many different things and can converse about them intelligently
3. having my entire family around the table today. I don't take it for granted any more that my parents will always be there, nor that as I have to "share" the married kid with another family on for holidays (I cried before I could even get those words out, and admitted, truly how happy I am today for the blessing of all 12 of us around the table.)
4. that my daughter, DIL, and DILTB all know how to cook and bless their loved ones with good food
5. for my new daughter-in-law, Dee, and how well she takes care of Ben, and vice-versa. It's heartwarming to see the love between them.
Thank You, God, for all Your blessings, and for a special day to sit down and count them one by one while eating, drinking, and making merry.