by Shawn Dean
Bear with me. This Thanksgiving story is a random assortment of memories that collectively say something. Or they say something to me, but I can’t assume they will to you. Though, that is the responsibility of the writer, to write something that means something. If he doesn’t, then he’s just written a Harlequin Romance, which means nothing, unless of course you can make something of that. But, I digress.
I think the year was 1992. I would have been twenty-five. That’s depressing. Anyway, I managed a Steak and Ale in Johnson City, Tennessee, and that year was the first year that upper management decided to open for Thanksgiving. Having no history to support how to prepare, the assumption was that it would be a little more than a typical day. Wrong. It was a madhouse, sobering and sad. Waitresses were crying; the dishwasher guy doesn’t show up. I remember thinking as the restaurant filled up with singles and couples just how lonely humanity was. At the time, I was saved, but I didn’t really know Jesus; I was single with a handful of poor prospects and a broken family of my own in Jackson, Mississippi. I remember thinking, “I want to have a family one day and I want it to be a happy one.”
If memory serves, Mamaw Buck died in 1990. It was a significant event in the life of my mother’s side of the family, for she was the spiritual voice, the voice of reason. Up until that time, no alcoholic beverage was found on her table at Thanksgiving or Christmas. She was a Jesus lover. That’s not to say that if you do have wine with your Turkey that you can’t love Jesus, so don’t let me ruffle your turkey feathers. However, in my world the two things are significant because my messed-up family and me don’t do things half-heartedly. The two just don’t go together in my world—booze and Jesus, that is. So, in 1991, the party started and Jesus wasn’t invited. I had a year of sobriety under my belt. That’s the last Thanksgiving that I remember doing with my mother’s side of the family. Christmas was an even greater disaster.
I hope Thanksgiving 2014 is like 2013. Thirty plus people from ages five to 92 held hands in a circle at my in-laws house in Arkansas and thanked Jesus for one another. Yes, they love Jesus in Arkansas too. We thanked Him for the abundance of blessings He’s provided us. More than 30 people with a mountain of issues calling on the One that Moves Mountains is just one thing to me—HOPE. That’s what my three daughters and my awesome, smokin’ hot wife and I have. HOPE. Thank you Jesus for answering the heart desires of a 25-year-old, lost boy.
Sweet Potato Casserole
By Tara Dowden
As I walk in the room, with a slight huff he is walking out the door again. Laughter from my mom and grandmother fill the kitchen as they watch my grandfather leave for yet another grocery run. He has the dreaded list in his hands; more sweet potatoes, at least one more bag of small marshmallows, and McCormick vanilla flavoring (no other brand will do). Meanwhile the aromas from the kitchen fill the entire house. My grandmother and mother have their aprons on as they scurry around preparing turkey and dressing, fresh cranberry sauce, German green beans, asparagus casserole, sweet potato casserole, fruit salad, caramel cake and chocolate pie. When my grandfather returns he will have another task of grating the entire bowl of sweet potatoes for the sweet potato casserole, my favorite dish because of the marshmallows on top. After our dinner we will leave to visit more family where we will cry, laugh, cheer for football games, play family football games, take naps around the fire, and celebrate our nation and one another.
Year after year, these were my Thanksgiving memories. Thanksgiving was a family event and although now we grieve the loss of my grandparents and other relatives each year, we also celebrate as our family grows. We keep old traditions and start new ones. My mom is now the grandmother and I am the mother with the apron on, my husband now makes all the grocery runs and peels the sweet potatoes (somehow this tradition skipped my father). Within the past few years we’ve expanded our Thanksgiving table to friends we have met through the Salvation Army, singles at our church, or maybe those who have no family in town. My father carves the turkey; we grab hands with family and new friends and thank God for all the blessings of another year.
By Martin Willoughby
As I reflect on Thanksgiving, my mind drifts back to one particularly memorable one in 1996. My wife Nicki and I were relative newlyweds and pre-kids. We were “grown-ups” living in our first house together and it was the first time we invited both sides of our family to our house for a holiday meal. My sister and her husband still lived in Jackson, my grandparents were still alive, and I was a student in law school. We were proud to be able to host our families and savored the moment.
On a humorous note, what made this Thanksgiving particularly memorable were Nicki’s heroics. When I married Nicki, I became step-dad to a Yorkshire terrier named Snickers. Snickers was her “baby” and as our guests were arriving, I accidently let Snickers out the front door. A neighbor’s pit bull had gotten loose and grabbed Snickers and was flinging him around. I was doing my best to free Snickers from these “jaws of death” when I looked back and saw Nicki literally flying through the air doing a full, headfirst dive into this vicious animal. She quickly set Snickers free and was the hero of the day.
As long as I live I don’t think I will ever forget my wife flying through the air like Superwoman to save her baby! It was certainly a Thanksgiving to remember. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Foxy Taught Me About Worship
By Andy Wimberly
It was Thanksgiving 1998. Christy and I were riding back to our home when we saw a black, mixed-breed, little tiny puppy on the side of the road covered with mud. She was obviously very cold, sick, and scared. Just a few feet away lay her Mom, a victim of a car mishap.
We immediately took her to the vet to fix her cuts and bruises and asked for them to give her to a deserving family. The doc agreed, fixed her up, but told us there was “no room in the inn” for that night. We agreed to take her home for just one night. That one night turned into 15 years.
Her name was Foxy and she and I became best friends. She taught me many things, but this is one of my favorite Foxy lessons:
No matter what, whenever I turned on the key to our electric golf cart, Foxy was always ready and hopped right in. As we spent time together, she never complained about the weather, her food, her doghouse, or the other neighborhood dogs. You know all she wanted? She just wanted to be in my presence; to be still and quiet with me, loving on me, being perfectly content to be with me for as long as I WANTED.
GOD’s got a sense of humor and He used Foxy to teach me about worship.
The word WORSHIP kept popping up in my mind. Worship Services, worshipping the LORD, worship songs. How does GOD want us to worship him? Does he want us to pray more? Give More? Sing more? Do More? All of those things are really good, but that’s not all HE wants.
Just as Foxy on the golf cart was totally focused on me, GOD wants us to get in HIS GOLF CART and just be with him. Not complaining about our church, the sermon length, the choir robe colors, the music, the weather, gossiping, or putting others down. He just wants us to be in HIS presence, to be still and quiet—loving on Him, being perfectly content, worshiping Him—until HE says that’s enough.
Are we being still and quiet enough to hear GOD’s golf cart key “click” and go jump on His front seat or are we too busy doing our stuff?