"Thankfulness creates gratitude which generates contentment that causes peace." -Todd Stocker
In exactly one week Americans all over the US will create or bring forth their personal yet traditional menu and sit together among friends and/or family and celebrate what I believe to be one of the greatest days of the year, Thanksgiving. I decided today would be a great day to talk about Thanksgiving. I want to be able to give IT the time it deserves and the emotion it brings. In the next few days I along with 90% of the population of cooks and hosts will be too busy working, grocery shopping, cleaning, and rethinking the menu that the idea of being "thankful" falls by the wayside until it's time to greet and eat.
For my family, the past few Thanksgiving celebrations (after gathering and welcoming) started with a circle of prayer. We have stood and we have sat, but we always hold hands. After giving thanks to God for the many blessings our lives have been enriched with, we go in a circle and say out loud something we are thankful for. For some, it is intimidating. Regardless if it is family or not, everyone has that little "fear" of speaking in crowds! So, their list is short, but nonetheless, heartfelt and sincere. For a majority of the family, the list is long. I have found that this moment of individual thought is where our deepest thoughts of the year with all its happenings comes forward. We tend to think of situations that have been hard to deal with or sometimes the people we have loved and lost come to mind. And at the very given moment, we find our strength is in the circle we are standing in. The word 'thankful' takes on a new meaning. Emotions are raw as each person speaks. Some can't even finish a thought or sentence without stopping or getting chocked up. Others listen, feel the sincerity and shed tears of complete understanding. Time stops, no one even thinks about the food or its temperature. We give complete attention to the speaker. Each person comes to realize in that 10-90 second thought, what they believe to be the most grateful for in this game we call life....which is...each other. But, I'm not going to lie, there is always one or two who feel the need to throw in a little lightheartedness by stating their utmost appreciation and gratefulness for beer!
After this release of emotion and genuine show of gratitude, there is this heaviness that seems to leave the room. Everyone feels it! But what stays in this feeling of contentment and peace. And hunger! It's so funny to see everyone "dig" in, but I personally love to watch everyone pass their plate asking for their favorite menu item. I hear, "oh my God, I've been waiting for the macaroni all day" or "Hawaiian rolls? YES!" or "is there onions in that?" or "dark meat, I just want dark meat" and the best, "where's the fried rice?" Yes, my mom makes fried rice, I mean, no American Thanksgiving is complete without fried rice, right??? lol ...everyone eats, everyone laughs, everyone is thankful.
And then there's dessert. It's like a human law to have to eat dessert at Thanksgiving. And at our family Thanksgiving we have just as many pies as we do side dishes to serve with the turkey! We have the traditional pumpkin pie, and since I'm big on tradition, I make custard pie because that's what my aunt used to bring to our holiday gatherings as I was growing up (and I always make an extra for my dad to take home). There's always someone trying a new recipe like pumpkin cheesecake or a banana pudding pie. Oh, and I can't forget my sister in-law's brownies she brings to every function because we all love them. To say there are leftovers is a ridiculous understatement, but it's the best because it allows us all to take home a little bit of our favorites and continue the celebration over the weekend.
I don't know what your favorite family traditions are, but I hope they bring you the laughter and joy and thankfulness the day is intended to bring. Find a way to show your thankfulness on Thanksgiving and every day if possible, because like the saying goes, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for...