She needed a tradition of thanks.
A Smaller Thanksgiving
An invitation to sunny Florida, and to the cooking of her oldest granddaughter, was the pivotal book-the-flight moment my mother needed. Now, she could abandon the practice of stuffing her entire family and too much food into her small condominium.
Yet, this smaller Thanksgiving celebration did not mean the menu was downsized. Mom, my daughter, and I shared the kitchen duties, compared recipes, and revealed personal shortcuts. For a few days, we calmly prepped in the kitchen and told stories. We handed down memories from generation to generation and back again. Realizing how much my mother had influenced me, her mother her, and beyond was cool.
Sometime in the middle of our prepping time, our hostess (my daughter) moved to the dining room to prepare the table—more formally so than our usual tribe-sized buffet affairs.
As soon as Thursday afternoon arrived, the four of us hovered near the center of a long table, two on each side facing a centerpiece of decorative pumpkins and ruffled burlap fluttering from a dark wooden box. The deep red tablecloth acted as a backdrop. Each place held a brown kraft paper placemat with a large, animated turkey printed on one-third of the mat. It also had a title scripted across the top: “I am so thankful for.” Unnumbered lines followed the statement.
Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
~Psalm 106:1 NLT
The sight of that paper placemat zoomed me to a happy place.
Every Thanksgiving morning–beginning over thirty years ago and before they could spell Oreos or their kitten’s name–my daughters and I raced to see who could finish their list of one hundred things for which we were thankful. We did this as the Macy’s parade marched in the background.
A Renewed Perspective
But after the girls grew up and made moves that prevented a trip home for the holiday, I had hints the practice was still alive and well. One year, my youngest sent a photo from two thousand miles away of her completed list. One year, my oldest shared her frustration when she failed to get a friend to join along. That goofy-looking paper placemat confirmed my tradition had left an impression. One I hope continues.
After a divorce, many moves, and some unusual Thanksgiving celebrations, I have continued to begin every Thanksgiving morning with my list of one hundred things. Something in the practice immediately grounds my heart in humble gratitude.
Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
~Psalm 107:21 NLT
We shared noodle secrets, tricks to help our yeast rolls rise better, and a discourse over a midpoint turkey flip. These things will always remind me of the time we once again shared a strong spirit of gratitude. A gratitude heightened and renewed by the annual listing of all the things for which we are most thankful–from generation to generation and back again.
What tradition does your family practice on Thanksgiving Day?
Dear Father, help me to spend time this Thanksgiving in a humbled state of giving, so I can thank the one who gives me every good and perfect gift and all I have. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Copyright 2023: A Tradition of Thanks: Cynthia Mendenhall: All Rights Reserved