Thanksgiving morning our family crowds around a card table to eat breakfast in the living room
. Sipping eggnog in champagne glasses, we give thanks. For the new job, the fun summer vacation, grandma’s successful surgery, the basement stayed dry…from the spectacular to the mundane, we are grateful.
As the self-appointed secretary, I write it all down with cryptic notes and initials of who was grateful for what. Not nicely at all but rather fast and furious, in between sips of tea, so as not to slow down the flow. Later that weekend I will carefully transcribe this year’s thanks into the Thanksgiving Journal, a simple fabric lined blank book we started in 1982.
The favorite part of breakfast is next: We open the journal and read aloud lists from the past. We used to read ALL the entries from every year but now each of us chooses a year or two to read before the turkey needs to get put in the oven. The early years are most often chosen.
Much laughter ensues as we recall a four-year-old’s gratefulness for a new tricycle, the year we got our winter coats at a great garage sale, the addition of a guinea pig to the family circle. We also remember the family triumphs: the completion of a project at work or the beginning of a new baby-sitting job, the mastery of a hard piece on the violin, the winning little league team.
Friends who have moved on often show up in the journal, the upstairs neighbors who provided the playmates, the best friend from kindergarten, the work colleague who was so helpful. Some people in our paths have many entries in our journal: the teacher that taught all four of our kids, the children’s pastor at church, grandmas and grandpa’s and our close friends who live two doors away.
Vacations are always remembered with thanks, Niagara Falls, the ocean, the campsites, and the family van that took us to all those places.
The harder stuff of life transforms into thanks in the pages of the journal as well. We’re thankful that our friend who died is in heaven; grateful that mom’s car accident wasn’t worse; glad for the new bike to replace the stolen one.
We also recall the guests who joined us each year as their names are in the journal as well. Remember John and Sue? Whatever happened to Mark? Who is Terry? Wow, the Bowkers have come 17 times!
By the end of breakfast we are full from the special foods but also of rich memories of fun times, friends along the way, places we have been, and God’s faithfulness. We will spend the rest of the day with family and friends, and later also record all the details such as the weather, special treats, new games, and assorted tidbits such as the year the plumbing backed up.
Later in the day, the same card table will hold a jigsaw puzzle for old and new friends to work on while drinking hot cider and waiting for the traditional dinner. Following the feast is a group walk around the block and spirited game playing. One of the beauties of Thanksgiving is that we all know the script!
The journal will stay the rest of the weekend out for browsing, laughing, and remembering. By the following Monday it will return to its place on the shelf next to the one that holds the Christmas memories.
We remember what we have written.
Hope for the Best,
PS It’s never too late to start!