Thanksgiving with the Girls

This blog began last November as a way to increase gratitude and turn everyday life into a lifetime of thanks-living. I wanted to learn to live more gratefully, fully, and simply and encourage others to do likewise. The journey has been one both of learning and celebration. We may have a national holiday here in the USA called “Thanksgiving,” but living with gratitude and thanks all the time sure does trump a single day’s remembrance.

But since it is “Thanksgiving Day,” and since I have so much in my life for which to be thankful, I don’t want to neglect the chance to be especially grateful right now in this present moment.

For the first time in many years my mother and both of my daughters were gathered with me around the table. Our dear friend Debbie joined us, too. I was able to cook up a traditional family feast without massacring the turkey or ending up with lumps in the gravy. It was a good time; however, it came at a price.

My mom took a lot of risks to fly up here. Her health has been tenuous for a while now, but thanks to the good folks at Delta Airlines and her friend, Greg, she braved the journey. It has been wonderful to have her here, and she even made us one of her awesome pecan pies for dinner.

My wonderful husband also paid a price. It is his tradition to travel to New England to be with his family at Thanksgiving. Pastors have a tough time getting away at Christmas, so if you want to spend a holiday with family Thanksgiving is the window of opportunity. Because my oldest daughter had surgery and could not travel, Mr. Wonderful Husband suggested I stay home with her and have a holiday with the girls. When I mentioned flying my mother up, he was completely supportive because he realizes how precious time with family is and how seldom I am able to see my mother (who lives in Tennessee) and have both daughters home, too. I am grateful that his family understands why I stayed home this year.

So the day has been joyous. It has been fun. It has been a bit bittersweet, too. Gathering around a table spread with all the good foods that have been a part of my (and my daughters’) childhood, with my mother seated next to me, with prayer, laughter, and much joy has been better than any Hallmark sentimental moment.

I am thankful for family. I am thankful for traditions that bind us together. And, I am thankful that on occasions tradition can be broken or altered through acts of love and caring that are truly gifts of the heart. Thank you to my family–all of you–for the gift of this Thanksgiving Day.

What about today meant something really special to you? To whom do you need to say a special word of thanks?

And as my Thanksgiving gift to you, here’s my recipe for Tipsy Taters (a decadently delicious take on candied sweet potatoes)

Tipsy Taters

You will need–

Enough cooked and sweetened yams for the number of folks you want to feed (or a large can or two of yams)

1 egg

brown sugar to taste (I use about 1/4 cup with sweetened canned yams or more for fresh)

spices to taste (I use cinnamon, ground cloves, and nutmeg)

somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 cup Kahlua or other good coffee liquor

2 to 4 tablespoons melted butter (margarine won’t cut it–don’t even try)

Mash and mix these ingredients and place in a greased casserole dish.

For Topping (get ready to sin and sin boldly)–

Mix together brown sugar, sweetened flaked coconut, and chopped pecans using enough to liberally cover the contents of the dish. Melt 1/2 cup butter (again, no margarine please) and Kahlua to taste. Pour melted butter and Kahlua over sugar/coconut/pecan mixture and stir until you have a lumpy but not overly moist mixture that can be sprinkled liberally over the yam mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes (topping should be bubbly and browned but not baked to a crackly crisp). Enjoy!

Thankful for Family Gatherings

One of the best things about holidays is the chance for families to gather together–usually around a delicious meal that includes traditional dishes and perennial favorites. Lively conversation and friendly banter spice the gathering. It’s a chance to visit with one another; for some family members who come from afar, it may be the only or one of the few times to see relatives during the year.

This was a unique year for me. It was the first year I spent a holiday with my husband’s family. It was good to get to know them better and experience the obvious love and delight they take in each other’s presence. I got to sample my mother-in-law’s holiday staple dishes–creamed onions and carrots and turnips and my father-in-law’s pumpkin cheesecake. I was able to bring one of our family’s traditional holiday favorite dishes to the table, too. After dinner there was more conversation, games, and grazing on the leftover desserts. It has been a good day.

Of course, it was sad not to be with my parents or my oldest daughter, but one can’t be everywhere at once. I am thankful to be welcomed into my husband’s family and made to feel right at home. I am thankful my youngest daughter is having a good time with her step-siblings and new relatives. I am truly thankful to be able to pick up a cell phone and call my parents and to use instant chat to talk with my daughter in Korea.  Most of all I am thankful to be alive today, to be able to enjoy good food and fine company, a sunny, crisp November day, and the beauty of God’s good creation. Blessings abound!

I hope you were able to find moments of blessing and to celebrate with those you love. To those who had to work, who were alone, or who are suffering illness or difficulty, I pray a better day for you and the meeting of your needs. I hope that all of us will find ways to open our eyes, reach out to one another in love and mutual caring, so that all my experience that bounty of God.

How did you spend this day? What were your special blessings? Did you remember to give thanks?

Photo by martha_chapa95 used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!