Giving Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, it is one of my favorite holidays. It’s a no-pressure day; just a time to enjoy those you love and make memories.

This year, Thanksgiving will be different for many. The COVID-19 pandemic will prevent some from traveling, some will not be able to gather because of illness and others will find an empty seat at their table missing those who have been lost. I pray for those families, I pray they have peace and are blessed by wonderful memories of days gone by.

As I look back on my memories of Thanksgiving, it is split between three very special series of my life.

As a child we spent our Thanksgiving celebrations in Rochelle, GA. I was born in Rochelle and we moved away when I was still a baby, but during the years my family lived there, we found a chosen family of Hudsons and Hornes and Conners and Mashburns and Reids and Whittakers, those Thanksgiving dinners would sometimes be 40, 50, 60 or more people. We were a rambunctuous bunch that gathered each year for feast upon feasts and laughter than would carry us for many years to come.

I still look back on those days in Rochelle as some of my favorites. Surrounded by music and catfish ponds and pecan orchards and cow pastures, the days spent in south Georgia during those Thanksgiving celebrations are etched into my memory forever.

When I moved to Florida, I developed my own chosen family. Neighbors and friends that I experienced every aspect of life with. During those years we saw marriages and divorces, new babies, tragedy and joy, but most of all we found laughter.

I will always remember my Florida Thanksgivings as large gatherings of pot-luck dinners and more laughs than I can ever count. When I look back on my life, these days are the fondest, when life was carefree, we were a combined bunch whose lives intersected through business and developed into one large family.

A mix of people who grew together and while now distanced, always a “go to” group that holds a special place in my heart.

While I would love to spend just one more Thanksgiving with our family friends in Rochelle, or my chosen family in Florida, my most beloved holidays are found with my own family.

We aren’t a large group, we never have been, but we are tight-knit and can hold our own on the rambunctuous meter.

Through the years, the seats at our table has changed. We have lost and we have gained, but each person who occupies a seat at our Thanksgiving table holds a special place in my heart.

Like most families, we don’t always see eye to eye, but when the chips are down or the important things in life come up, we are there for each other.

Our Thanksgiving consists of recipes passed down from generation to generation and as we gather, my mind will be drawn to the people who no longer physically sit at the table, but are there in our hearts.

My mother loved Thanksgiving, she cooked for days preparing far too much food, cooking the recipes of her own mother. She cooked with love and she worked hard to make each gathering special.

My daddy enjoyed any day that his boys were all under one roof, surrounded by his grandchildren and his family. He thrived on days like Thanksgiving and made sure to “taste test,” everything that came out of the oven.

My grandparents and my favorite Aunt were often found at our table on Thanksgiving, when we gather this year, I will think back on the memories of my life that they created and remember them fondly.

This year, as I sit with my family for Thanksgiving, I will thank God for each of them. I will give thanks for memories of the past and pray for what is yet to come. I will pray that better days lie ahead and I will give thanks for lessons learned in both hardship and good days, I will also give thanks that each of you have a place in my life and heart.

Happy Thanksgiving, may our lives continue to be enriched by the past and future.

Thanksgiving 2017

This morning the alarm on my phone came to life at its normal 6AM.  My first thought was “oh no, I could have slept in.”  My second thought was “it’s Thanksgiving….. I am thankful!”

As I lay in bed a million thoughts began to flow through my head, thoughts of Thanksgiving and gratitude.

Today as I gather with my family, I am truly thankful.

First and foremost, I am thankful that the Lord let my eyes open with that alarm, that I am given another day on this earth.

I am thankful for the 11 lbs of fur resting on my hip, for the almost 10 years that she has been in my life and that every day of those 10 years she still runs to me when I walk in the door, tail wagging and happy to see me.

I am thankful for the creaks and cracks of age in my bones when my feet hit the floor.  A sign of a life well lived and appreciated.

I am thankful that as I grow older I have an appreciation for blessings large and small.

I am thankful for a tight-knit family.  A family that is boisterous, doesn’t take life too seriously, but forms the backbone of my existence and comes together in good times and bad to support and love one another.

I am thankful for a community that supports our elderly and our next generations.

I am thankful to live in a community that understands the importance of standing for the National Anthem, a community where cars pull to the side of the road when a funeral passes and “how’s your mama” is as common a phrase as “may I help you?”

I am thankful for my little cabin in the woods that gives me refuge from the world.  A place where I can diddle and doddle around, make my own, and I am especially thankful for my screened in back porch, where I can watch sunsets through the trees or just sit and enjoy the peace of life.

I am thankful for my brother and sister-in-law.  I am thankful that they allow me the privilege of “parenting” their children and being a secondary grandparent to their beloved Hadley.

I am thankful for my niece and nephew.  I am thankful that they come to me just to talk or for advice and I am thankful that they return the favor when I go to them for the same.

I am OH SO THANKFUL for a two-year old that swells my heart just by running into a room.  I am thankful for her smile, her huge hugs and those sloppy kisses planted firmly on my lips. I am thankful when she tells me she loves me and I am thankful that she has wrapped me so tightly around her little finger.

I am thankful that my niece has a guy in her life who loves her daughter as his own.

I am thankful for my store, for the customers we have and for the opportunities it allows us to be a part of our community.

I am thankful for my team who works so hard to provide quality service and product for our customers and I am thankful that they all have “sick” personalities that enjoy a good joke, can rib me as hard as I rib them and make my days brighter just by being around.

I am thankful for long time friends, from various parts of the world, that I can pick up where we left off the last time we spoke.

I am thankful for my cousin that I haven’t seen in 30 years, who I “speak” with on a daily basis, a cousin who enjoys a  well placed emoji or GIF as much as I do.

I am thankful for the generation of family members who were raised with me, who have grown with me and who now share friendship and family connections and stories.

I am especially thankful for my cousin who is as much of a brother to Sam and I as anyone could be.  I am thankful that he is in our lives and we are able to do life together.

I am thankful for friends who on the surface don’t make sense, but are part of my life and just stop by the store or text to see what’s going on.

I am thankful that I have been able to reconnect with old friends and make new ones since moving back to God’s Country.

I am thankful for those who understand and honor the phrase “judgement has no place here.”

I am thankful to live in a country that doesn’t always honor our fore-fathers, but when it means the most comes together for the greater good.

I am thankful to have the opportunity to gather together with family and friends, I am thankful to be able to do life with these people and I am thankful for the blessings I encounter every day.

I am thankful for more than I could ever express on the screen of this laptop.

I am thankful….. and I am blessed!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, may your blessings be bountiful!

 

Life’s Playlist….. The Doxology performed by Anthem Lights

 

Life’s Playlist…. Kind and Generous by Natalie Merchant

Thanksgiving is a time to show gratitude for the blessings we have, but isn’t it also a time to expand on our kindness and generosity?

Just imagine all the blessings we would have if there was more kindness in the world.

We complain about the shortcomings of the world, imagine the mountains that could be climbed with generosity.

As I give thanks this season,  I also remember those who have given so much to me with their attributes of kindness and generosity, it makes me strive to be a better person.

Life’s Playlist….. Every Day by Rascal Flatts

Thanksgiving reminds us of the unsung heroes, people who step up in big and small ways to save us.

Strangers, family, friends, first responders, the people who innately are there when we need as shoulder.

It’s a good time to say thank-you for these people who save our lives… Every Day!