Talk Amongst Your Friends
by Kimberley Thompson, Tastemaker in Residence
Talk amongst my friends always turns to "what are your plans for the Thanksgiving" this time of year. Whether one is hosting, attending, staying, traveling, cooking or bringing the leftover containers; everyone is curious about how each of us celebrates this holiday above all the others.
Personally, it is about family for me. Well, the family AND the food to be honest. But the food parts will wait for another day.
All my childhood memories tumble over themselves recalling the days of traveling to 3 1/2 hours to Grandma's house; the car laden with 4 children, 2 adults, a dog and tantalizing aromas of all the foods packed in the trunk and in protective boxes on our laps. Laughter echoes through my recalled moments when spilling into Grandma's house, everyone hugged and talked over each other comparing wellness, height change (or lack of) and travel times.
The tables in her house were covered with pressed linens, paper turkey ornaments, candles and her best china. There was the adult's table and the children's table. At the grownups table, everything matched. Not so much at the children's table; hodgepodge but functional was the modus.
"Everyone to the table, " would swirl the men and children to their respective seats; as most of the women gathered in the kitchen to carry out the bounty on platters and bowls too numerous to count. Once unburdened by the serving, the women sat down with all the rest of us.
Then the table talk ceased. Silence. All heads bowed and hands folded, we waited.
My Grandfather would look down the tables and at all of us seated before him; and he would start to pray.
His prayers were simple and heartfelt; thanking God for being with us and watching out for us, His children, during the 12 months past. He acknowledged the years that were tough. Whether from adverse weather, poor health, reversal of fortunes or war, he thanked God for the opportunities that allowed us to grow closer to Him. And in the good years, his low and steady voice, would again praise God, this time for His undeserving bounty to His children.
Grandpa would remind us that God always had, was (at that moment), and would always be with each one of us through life's journeys even at our darkest hours. And that we, God's children through grace, had much to be thankful for every minute of our lives.
It has now been over 25 years since I last closed my eyes and heard his steadfast voice weave threads of grace, gratitude, praise, honor and joy around his family to God's ear.
Tonight, as I sit and write, my mind has been toying with how often these same prayers were said by my ancestors above the bowed heads of their families on Thanksgiving Day.
Did my own father's French Huguenot relatives, in a land where they could finally worship freely, praise God for their deliverance?
Did Mom's great grandfather thank God for His bounty in keeping his little family together as he smuggled his eldest sons out in a cattle ship to avoid subscription?
Did Selma (at age 11) listen to her Uncle Olaf pray for her family left behind in the old country and realize she would never see her Mother and Father again?
Did great great Grandmother Reed look at her 5 children the year after her young husband's death from a horse kick and offer up to God her thankfulness for her table's feast?
Is that what makes the foundation of Thanksgiving? Prayers? Not turkey and the fixings. Not football. Not shopping. Prayers?
My heart says yes.