Thanksgiving was always a pretty big deal in our family. My dad, a physician, would make a big deal out of stuffing the turkey and sewing it up with some old surgical instruments. (I know - it sounds nuts.) My folks would work together to prepare the food.
Grandparents would usually be around. Siblings were all there around the table. At the end of the meal we would play a "fill in the blank" story game called "Benny and Becky's Just Right Thanksgiving." It first appeared in some national periodical back in the 30's, I think.
I've discovered that this week is my favorite holiday of the year. Oh, there's no question that Christmas and Easter are more important to us all in so many ways. They remind us of God's presence and saving power. They bring us face-to-face with a God whose power and love are breath-taking. Cosmos changing. And July 4th has its special charms. Time at the lake, maybe a round or two of skiing, fireworks over the water in the evening. But Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
Not because of the food. (Although Sharon is an amazing cook and always takes better care of us than we deserve.) Not because of the Macy's Parade. Not because we all get a chance to watch the Detroit Lions lose another game.
No, it is because our family gets the chance to just be together. Pastors, at both Easter and Christmas, are pretty focused on preaching and leading worship at those times of the year. We always seem to be coming and going. But the week of Thanksgiving, after preaching a brief word in the beautiful, simple, short Thanksgiving Eve service we have at Trinity, I just sort of stop. I hang out with our family. This week two of our grown sons returned home with their families. Our 16-month old granddaughter was around.
We hang out...eat...watch some football...maybe slip up to Chicago for a day...do dishes...maybe catch at movie on DVD here at home...read news headlines to one another as we sit at the kitchen table and look at The Elkhart Truth, South Bend Tribune, and New York Times. It's good. We just waste time together...share space...breathe the same air.
I love it. As good as it is I ache as the house begins to empty. My siblings head off late on Thanksgiving day. A few days later our kids go off. As Ella is carried to her car by her Mom she looks back at the house...at us. Is it my imagination or is she thinking, "Dang! Is the party over?"
There is a fire in the fireplace. I've just finished the NY Times. Caught some of Indiana's game with Cornell and watched some of the Jets' game with the Broncos. The house is quiet.
And I am so thankful. Which is right where I started this week: thankful.