We were all bundled up, and packed into the car, the smells of buttered mashed potatoes making my mouth water. The snow hadn’t started yet, but the skies had been hinting at it for a week and by the end of the night, tiny snowflakes would be drifting to the ground to form the first layer of winter. We were gather at the Lighthouse, a regular building on a corner, where missionary and military families would be gathering to share a collective Thanksgiving dinner together.
It was a group effort to say the least, and everyone brought a favorite dish or two. Dad brought mashed potatoes, and mom brought her world famous cheese ball with American crackers. There would be a wide variety of american and bosnian foods, with everyone sampling different dishes, their plates piled high with steaming food. The dessert table was always overflowing with pumpkin and pecan pies, rice crispy treats, and cookies. The precious foods were savored, and every parent watched their children closely to make sure no one took more than they needed. Marshmallows, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and rice crispies, cranberry sauce, and other American goodies had to be flown in, or purchased at the American military base. It was a treat for everyone.The kids would play upstairs while the parents chatted, and then we would pray together and sing hymns while my mom played the piano and Uncle Tom played the guitar. We would reflect on the season and enjoying each other’s company long into the night, and then part ways after most of the kids had passed up. This was the Thanksgiving I grew up with. The Thanksgiving I know. You didn’t always have family that far away, but you did have each other, and sometimes, that was the best kind of family.
This year Thanksgiving looked a little different, Allan and I spent the day together, just the two of us. No family, no friends, just us, enjoying each other’s presence and stuffing ourselves with yummy food. It’s too far for us to go visit family, and there’s too much going on for family to come up here. To some it might seem like a dismal holiday, but instead, I think it’s going to be very special. This was our very first Reinhard Thanksgiving dinner, and as a newly married couple, I looked forward to the peace and quiet of just the two of us. I’m thankful for that, and thankful that we don’t need a party or tons of people or mountains of mashed potatoes (though I might make that much anyways). I just need him and the knowledge that we’re in this together.
So what’s the point of it all? What’s the point of the turkey and the gatherings and the cheese line: “Let’s all go around the table and say what we’re thankful for.” It definitely isn’t the historic image of the pilgrims and native Americans sitting down together with stuffing and cranberry sauce (if that’s what you think the first thanksgiving was really like, you need to double check that one…)
Thanksgiving is supposed to be, by definition, the act of giving thanks, with the grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors. The expression of thanks, “especially to God”, is the meaning of Thanksgiving. The grateful acknowledgment of the benefits I have. The acknowledgment of a roof over my head, a husband who loves me, a family who cares about me, food to eat, and a dog that follows me wherever I go.
And I recognize the truth that I am a blessed person. I have more than I need, especially when a lot of people don’t have anything. There is pain and devastation throughout the world, both physical and emotional. There are people hurting and starving and end emotionally empty. But I have things I definitely don’t deserve:
Cheshire: A husband who matches me so well, and who cuddles with me and washes dishes for me. He can be so loving and so forgiving when I am stubborn and difficult. When I complain, he gives me chocolate pudding, and tells me my cooking is amazing. He listens when I rant and cry about the things that upset me, and talks some sense into me when I need it.
My House: A house with a great kitchen and lots of cupboard space. A big enough space for a library for all of our many books. Internet that (almost) always works. A neighbor who makes me laugh, and shares her love of art and animals with me. A roof that keeps out the snow, and heat that keeps out the cold.
Miracle: My snuffly little raggamuffin who stares at me with puppy dog eyes hoping for a tidbit. Her joy over a small squeaking toy is so simple and so sweet, and I love her so much. Especially when she bends her neck and strange angles just so she can rest her head on my knee.
New Job & Friends: I was always worried about not finding a job that I loved and also allowed me to do what I went to college for. After working at my last job (where I was basically a glorified secretary instead of a marketing designer), I am so much more thankful for a place where I feel as though my talents can actually be put to work. Having the opportunity to intern at Cedar Campus is the push I need to advance my marketing skills, continue camp work, and continue growing as a person. I’ve made some great friends here, and I fit in. I was so afraid that Chesh and I wouldn’t be able to be ourselves here (tattoos, crazy hair, opinions, and all…), and it turns out that I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be surrounded by.
I am truly thankful this year. “My cup overflows.” I hope you all have an amazing holiday, and whether you’re spending that time with family or friends or alone, stop and take time to think about what you are truly thankful for.