I woke up this morning with a thankful heart. It isn’t because I am going to see everyone. In fact, a large part of our immediate family is unable to be with us today. It isn’t because of the food, the parade, football, hunting, the fellowship, or the tradition of setting up the Christmas village. In fact, I have an awful lot that I could grumble about. So why is my heart so full?
When I close my eyes, I do a time hop. My eyes tear up and my throat fills with a lump I can’t swallow. I can’t help it. I think of holidays past with people who have since left this earth, who made such an imprint on my heart and in my life. I am most thankful that I have those memories to reflect on.
When I was a little girl, we always had Thanksgiving with my Dad’s side of the family. My Massachusetts cousins, and my cousins from Presque Isle came to Cumberland to my Grammy Kinney’s old, breezy, brick house for a celebration and lots of food. It was the one time of the whole year that we got together and my grandmother looked forward to filling the house with all of us. I remember the turkey salt shakers and table decorations. I remember the wood stove blasting, wall to wall people and STUFF. Grammy was not a housekeeper and she was a bit of a STUFF COLLECTOR, which made it so much more fun for us kids. My cousins and I would play dress up with the many outfits she had collected to mail oversees for needy families. It was her passion. She loved children and couldn’t bare the thought of any in need, so she made it her mission to collect lightly used items, wash them, box them, and mail them to Third World Countries. We would work all afternoon to create a play, dressed in those clothes, and she and the adults would clap in delight at what we had arranged. We would bring our instruments down and put on a performance at our parents insistence, tease the geese by dashing through the yard, feed the pig multitudes of gum to see what would happen, imagine that nooks and crannies in the barn had hidden travelers from the Freedom Train, and help stack wood to save Grammy the work during the long winter. The older cousins would slip off to LL Bean while we played. The adults loved the opportunity to catch up after a long year, while Grammy insisted on waiting on everyone. The women would sneak into the kitchen to clean up while forcing Grammy to eat, until she caught on. Then they would be shooed back into the living room while Grammy insisted that she would wash dishes later, “thinking about the day and how much fun it was.”
Such wonderful memories filled with people who are no longer with us, who helped to mold me into the woman I am today…
Thanksgiving has changed for us over the years. We don’t see that side of the family any more. However, we have instilled new traditions with growing and changing families. Today, I am reminded that it isn’t about who isn’t able to join us today. It is about relationships and TIME. It is about making an effort to show those people that mean so much to me, that I love them and to thank them for the impact that they have made on my life. Today we have a small group of 13 that will surround the table and Thanksgiving will look different than even last year.
As the traditions of Thanksgiving continue to move and morph I will:
Close my eyes. I will think about all the people, both past and present that have impacted my life the most; friends, family, coworkers, community members, teachers, pastors, television and radio hosts. I will meditate on events both positive and negative that have molded me into the person I am today. I will envision people I have never even met, but who taught me lessons through story telling. I will reflect on life circumstances that have allowed me to stretch and grow and reflect on the countless blessings that were given even when they weren’t deserved. I will thankfully reflect on the times that my Maker was gentle with me when I was off track. Most importantly, I will think about the impact that all of these events have had on my life and will determine to be thankful and to feel genuine JOY .
I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…
Thank you to all of you, both past and present. Because I knew you, I have been changed for the better.