I have been thinking of you all week, friend. And, wow! Was that one crazy busy week or what? Mine was filled with one last Bible Study night, a little bit of cooking every day so that I could sit on the couch this morning with a cup of coffee, my Jesus, and my darling husband and look at the fire instead of waking up at 5 am to run around as if I was the turkey whose head had just been cut off for dinner, and the joy-filled privilege to help celebrate Thanksgiving preschool- and kindergarten-style. Between the pilgrim hats and feathered head bands, chocolate cupcakes for 60 and the buttercream frosting that would not spread, turkey bowling, bracelet-making and finger painting, my exhausted mama heart filled to the brim with thankfulness.
I had you in mind all week, friend. I watched you run into the Thanksgiving party, frazzled-late, so desperate to spend time with your kindergartener, so full of love, so trying to do more than any one person should be able to (but somehow you do it all.) You’re making dinner for 28, baking pies for an army, balancing a baby on your hip, and arguing with a teenager. You’re waiting to see if every single member of your extended family is well so you can take your special needs baby to Thanksgiving dinner. You worked twice as hard at the beginning of the week so you could work every single moment on the day you take off to give your family a beautiful holiday. And I got your text from 4:56 this morning, I am exhausted. Babies up all night teething. And I treasured your willingness to share God’s word as you wheel in a beautiful new baby boy to share with us all, only one week later. I treasured your wisdom on Facebook last night, I’m sad that you’re already exhausted. But I understand it. As I worked on our thanksgiving dinner this week, I was flooded with memories of times past when I was a child and Mother and Grace worked for days on end. Then my children were babies and little ones and the house was filled with excitement. It’s always a lot of work, but you won’t trade the memories of these days for anything. I recall my last holiday with Grace and she was saying the same thing. At this point in my life, there is a LOT of bittersweet alongside my helping of turkey.
And this is what we’re doing, sisters: we’re offering ourselves up as living sacrifices, as a broken and willing vessel to pour out love and turkey upon sweet little faces and the weary brother-in-law and the hard-to-love uncle who always makes that one off-colored joke at dinner. We’re feathering our nest with the best of who we are–straight from the heart–and we’re laying it down so that others can grow strong and nurtured and whole on our watch.
And we’re grateful, straight down through our toes, that we’re still here, and that we’ve been given this shot on the stage of life to love, to stretch, to offer up our gifts and see our Father multiply them into a sea of blessings.
I know it’s hard. I’ve done enough Thanksgiving dinners, from the tiny dinner for four in our postage-stamped penny kitchen to my first dinner for the Arthurs when Mom was sick and I was first teaching and so tired I got into two fender benders in one day just doing the shopping, to Thanksgivings on card tables and serveware charged to credit cards, to the year the house had to be kept sterile, where I cooked until midnights and stayed up all those nights with a sick baby, a teething baby, a nursing baby . . .
And there have been years I resented and a year that I called it all off at the last minute, years I felt my back might break, years with no break. But as I grow in the Unforced Rhythms of Grace, I realize that these holidays are not about the striving. Whether there are five sides or one, whether the turkey is overcooked or not, whether the table looks like it’s been furnished by Pottery Barn or the Good Will, Thanksgiving will go on. Even if a pipe bursts and you lose water pressure and the only way to get water is to hold huge pots under the bursting spicket outside and carry it in the house (yup! that happened at the Arthur’s one year), Thanksgiving will go on. It will. I promise.
So, sit down and drink a cup of coffee or a glass of wine today. Make a fire and cuddle your babies. Watch the Peanuts’ The Mayflower Voyagers if you really want a great kid-friendly account of the first Thanksgiving. Forget being perfect. All perfect gets you is a charged up credit card and a frazzled, crazy-eyed Mama. Wait for your guests to arrive and set the table together. Hug your family, look into their faces, and be grateful for your people today.
This life can be so hard, friend. But today? Today is gravy.
Be blessed, bless. And above all, sing praise to Jesus as you baste that turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving, Sisters. I am so very grateful for each one of you.
And, just to hint at your guests, you might want to hang this up in your kitchen: