Does your Thanksgiving celebration include any long standing family traditions? This is a holiday that demands traveling from many, exhausting hours of food preparation for others, and hours of feeling overstuffed from having overeaten for others. But I have yet to see anyone turn down left-overs a few hours later when the re-heated food tastes just as good as it did at the main show.
I am smiling right now as Shawn is in the kitchen with Michelle working away. There is food of all kinds being prepared. And Amanda is a few miles away in her kitchen creating some additional masterpieces to add to the table. Daniel will work his expertise by mashing the potatoes in a short while. He uses a hand masher and there are no lumps when he is done. His mashed potato crater filled with the gravy lake is a work of art. I help with dishes, keep the counters clean and take out the trash. I am so thankful for this wonderful family.
I see many stores are opening their doors later today to give prospective shoppers an earlier chance to fulfill the Christmas lists and get the holiday shopping underway. Poor employees! Not only do they have to cut the day with family short and get to work, they will , for minimum wage or slightly more, be subjected to the rudeness of shoppers who came looking for a particular bargain only to find the store sold out at 8:32 on Thanksgiving evening. I can only hope all those shoppers handle that disappointment in an adult manner that does not get their name on Santa’s naughty list. The meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday is slipping away for the average American and being replaced by something leading in a different direction entirely.
I have a Thanksgiving tradition I started about 12 years ago. I get up early with Shawn and help with whatever she needs. Then I head off to the woods for a walk-about. There is a spot overlooking a lake where the sun rises behind me and the light reflects off the lake surface like a mirror. That is my cathedral, the place where I can sit down, pause, think about the blessings in my life and give God thanks for all He has done. It is so quiet in that spot with the only sounds being the wind rustling through the dried leaves of the beech trees, the gurgle of water as it tumbles down the cascade below the dam, and occasionally the sounds of a duck quacking as it paddles around the still waters. And the experience brings me so near to God. It is truly a Hallelujah chorus!
That time is followed by an “off-the-beaten-path” trek across the middle of Umstead’s acres. I have rarely taken the same steps on successive hikes. If the sun is over my left shoulder I am heading south and when I walk toward the sun I am moving east. There are trails crisscrossing the park and I have learned which trail I am intersecting and whether I go left or right to get to my next location. I can also skip the trails entirely. I relax in the woods, away from the distractions, and can do some serious thinking as I tromp on those tried leaves.
Although I set my sights on a direction for the hike, there are obstacles. It might be a fallen tree, brambles and briars, or even a creek that has cut the bank too steep to step down and cross. Those diversions require me to take short journeys in another direction, maybe left or right. I have even had to backtrack a time or two. But the general movement is forward.
Before I left this morning I was reading the book of Isaiah, chapter 49. It is great that Isaiah saw himself as being formed from the womb to be God’s servant (verse 5). Talk about having a purpose in life! He also describes himself as God’s select arrow (verse 2). That man could stay on the journey of life with confidence the obstacles did not mean the plan had gone awry. Isaiah could move left or right as needed, knowing all the time, God is in control.
It is a comfort to know the Living God has not forgotten us or abandoned His plan. In verse 16, God told Isaiah, “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…” That is a truth which should build our thanksgiving into a roaring bonfire of praises!
Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!