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Here are some random thoughts on the eve of a thanksgiving holiday. One of my most memorable family thanksgivings is one that I have somehow idealized in my mind. It was a year that we had decided as a family to visit my aunt and uncle. My mother’s sister was the youngest of eight children and had always considered her older sister as sort of a surrogate mother. She was in her mid-twenties and wanted to have a big family thanksgiving dinner at her house. For me, my uncle was one of the main reason that I wanted to drive half way across Nebraska. He had a handlebar moustache, he took me riding on his motorcycle, he let me shoot his shotgun out the window of his pickup truck and had a mysterious record collection with bands called Foghat, Three Dog Night and the ultra sinister Black Sabbath. I thought that he was way cool.
In my mind the wonderful nature of that thanksgiving is all centered around the meal of freshly shot pheasant and quail on the table. There were steaming bowls of mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans with crunchy onions, whipped sweat potatoes with brown marshmallows on top and a canned shaped red cranberry sauce. I remember nearly breaking my teeth on the BB’s still lodged in that bird’s chest. As I sat at that wobbly card table, in my 10-year-old mind this hearth was like the idyllic ones that I saw on the television screen.
Why would such an image still seem so positive in my 38-year-old jaded mind? Especially, after my cool uncle ended up indicted as a conspirator in an armed robbery? Or after my aunt’s mental illnesses broke apart our already fragile family relationship with her? Oh that we could return to our 10-year-old minds!
Denial, of course there is a good dose of that in my background when it comes to family and myself. Sometimes we wish the hurt, loneliness, anger, pain and depression surrounding our families just did not exist. So, we try to erase it and push it deep into our sub-conscious. Or, it might merely be nostalgia. Thinking desperately nice things about a past that really never existed. I am sure that is a big part of it also. Yet, there is one more explanation that I would submit. It is because I dearly loved those people. At ten I did not know anything about terms like incarceration, bi-polar, anxiety and tension. I just knew that this was exactly where I wanted to be. With our entire flaw filled lives I could not imagine a place that I would rather be. I even looked forward to the holidays.
We just shared one meal tonight and we will share many different meals tomorrow. We have a verity of needs, celebrations and problem of our own that may be magnified this holiday. Yet, when we strip all of these things away we still have love and are wrapped up in the love of God. Our lives are not perfect like the glossy ads in Vanity Fair. The silver is a bit tarnished, ssshh…the turkey was accidentally dropped on the kitchen floor, Aunt Mary is already three sheets to the wind while Jim and dad are arguing the upcoming election in a corner. We are a family! Enjoy each other and remember to love everyone.
Picture by Introducing Nancy
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