“Dear God, Thank you for everything. Amen.”
That was the first prayer my daughter said from her heart. You know, the first one that she hadn’t learned from some one else.
When she said it, I got on to her. “Go on….you’re not done. You need to do better. Name the people and things you’re thankful for. Tell the good Lord your petitions. Give more details.” I thought she was being a lazy pray-er.
Now I realize how perfect her prayer really was. “Thank you for everything.” No begging, no whining, no complaining, no asking. Just a big, fat thank you. For all of it.
This Thanksgiving Day, what is your prayer?
Is there someone in your family who is the usual pray-er? My Daddy is the prayer leader in our family. Our family’s farmhouse will be loaded with generations of relatives and their spouses and friends. We all look to my Daddy to say the blessing. Actually, at every gathering where he is present, he is always asked to lead the prayer. He does such a good job. Just the right words. Just the right length.
One holiday, a guest volunteered to say the blessing for the family. Before he finally wrapped it up, the food was cold and we were stifling giggles. Should I tell you this? Okay, I will, since it’s true. I wasn’t a kid when that happened. It was within the last 10 years or so. Isn’t that terrible? An adult, who is usually very reverent! I was standing there with tears in my eyes and about to burst out laughing because the volunteer pray-er won’t stop. I made the mistake of opening my eyes and looking up at my husband. He’s Catholic, so he doesn’t believe you have to close your eyes and bow your head. That’s all it took to lose control, our eyes met and that was it. And still ,the volunteer prayer leader went on and on and on. He mentioned everything and everyone. (Like my Grandma used to say, “There is a time and place for everything.”)
It is a tradition in my family for us all to go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house. Even though my Grandma is no longer with us, we still gather at The Farm and share Thanksgiving together. “The Farm” is the farm where my grandparents raised and fed their family. My father and his nine brothers and sisters grew up there. The cousins got together a few months ago and cleaned and spruced up the house and grounds. (We’re pretty sure that what we found under the bathroom cabinet was a snake skin. If it was, I’m just glad it was empty. No snake inside…)
This is a replacement house that the family moved to The Farm; the original one burned to the ground in 1976.
Everyone brings a dish or two. My Aunt Lillian, who must be pushing 90 by now, is the matriarch of the family. She will bring her famous and most delicious banana pudding. (I’ll type up her recipe and post it over at my blog at www.rebekahteal.com
. ) Some of us have learned to stop by the dessert table to get a spoonful of her banana pudding first
. It is a family favorite and goes fast. It only takes one time—just once of missing out on that banana pudding for you to learn your lesson: hit the banana pudding first. Yep, first stop for me.
My cousin Cheryl will bring a dessert that will have me begging for the recipe; she always does. I wonder what it will be this year? My Mama will bring a roasted turkey and a pan of Southern Dressing. Southern Dressing is made with crumbled cornbread. So good! My Aunt Marilyn will bring a big, moist, perfectly cooked ham. Then, the rest of us will bring vegetables and desserts. The eating is always good at The Farm. We’re sure to have sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, Aunt Berna’s Holiday Jell-O Salad, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, my sister’s asparagus casserole. Oh yum.
After we eat, my Daddy will gather the children and few young-hearted adults in the back of his truck loaded with hay. He’ll crank up the country Christmas music real loud, and we’ll set off for a hayride through the pastures.
We will spend some time in the old pecan grove at The Farm, looking for nuts. It’s hard to find nuts that aren’t rotten or don’t have worm holes, but when you do….such a treat. They are the variety that has a thin shell, so it’s easy to put two in the palm of your hand and squeeze until one cracks.
And then, maybe, just maybe, we’ll gather in the front parlor and sing Christmas carols. I haven’t been practicing piano lately, and I’m rather swamped this week, but if I have time, I’ll practice and accompany everyone to a few standard tunes, ones everyone knows all the words to. My husband will bring his guitar too, and maybe cousin Troy will bring his too. And then we’ll sing everything from “Jingle Bells” to “Silent Night” to “Christmas in Dixie.”
And most importantly, I make sure to visit with everyone, especially with my older aunts and uncles. Three of my aunts have died, which has made me think about things. Things I don’t like to think about. I became rather blue one recent holiday as I sat at a table with some of my older uncles, one who can’t see anymore, one who can’t hear anymore, and one who gets confused these days. Does anyone know how to freeze time?
As we head out, and the screendoor slams behind me, I whisper my own prayer, “Take care of these people that I love, Lord, take care of these people….Oh, and thank you for everything….”
Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.
From far and near we travel home,
Blessed that we are able.
Grateful for this sheltered place
With light in every window,
Saying “welcome, welcome
Share this feast
Come in away from sorrow.”
Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend and friendless;
All together everyone
In the gift of loving-kindness.
Grateful for what’s understood,
And all that is forgiven;
We try so hard to be good,
To lead a life worth living.
Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend, and friendless;
All together everyone
Let grateful days be endless.
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah