I used to say Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday, and I suppose if I had to rate them all, it would still be a slight favorite. But back when the kids were still at home or living nearby, back when I had all the cooking to do from the turkey to the trimmings to the pies, that's when I relished everything about it. These days, the edge has somehow worn off, even though I'm not doing that much of the work now (nor do I want to). I wish I hadn't lost the excitement of fifty years ago. Going back even seventy years, those times was great too. All I had to do then was eat the wonderful meal: By the time I was eight years old, I knew which dishes I could expect to find at Grandma's house on Thanksgiving, and I didn't so much get excited by the food as I did about seeing my cousins and aunts and uncles. Good food was the norm in my family, any day.
I enjoy getting together, of course, and seeing our family. I just seem to have lost the excitement. I thank God for every day I have, but I realize I have one foot touching earth and one stepping into eternity, so I don't get excited about many things these days.
I am at an age when I've realized I won't be able to do many of the things on my bucket list, since travel is so expensive. Even the simpler things I thought I might eventually do are fading fast. Example: Ever since I read Ricky Skaggs' autobiography and developed a liking for bluegrass music, I have thought it would be great fun to attend a bluegrass festival, one that lasts for two or three days. BUT... that would involve camping on the grounds: from what I've read, a lot of the entertainment at these festivals can be found on the campgrounds. I understand random people get together and jam near their campers and tents. What fun, to stroll from one group to another and listen to the songs! But we're past the camping stage.
Of course, things like this don't always work the same in reality as they do in my imagination anyhow. So perhaps I'm just being spared the disappointment of finding out it's no fun at all.
If you think I'm wishing my life had been different, you can think again. I wouldn't trade lives with anybody. There are things I would like to have done differently, but I love my life.
When I was eleven years old, living on the Glen Wyant farm where Daddy was a hired man, I fell in love with the rural lifestyle, exploring the woods and climbing around in the barn. It's as near to actual farming as my parents, or at least my dad, ever did in my lifetime, although we always lived in rural or small-town settings.
After getting the news we were moving to Kansas City, I recall walking through the woods on the farm one day, praying I could someday have a similar place in the country, with woods to roam in. I was sad when we moved to the city and settled into a two-room apartment temporarily. I cried in private, remembering what I'd lost. My other heartfelt prayer, one that I'd prayed since a VERY young age, was for a horse. Of course, by moving to the city, that dream was lost for many years.
Nobody ever made me pray when I went to bed, and we only had prayers at meals when we had company. But at some point I began to whisper a little prayer before I went to sleep, one of those rhyming prayers like "now I lay me down to sleep"; and then I'd throw in a wish at the end for something I wanted.
But the only childhood prayers I felt with all my heart, spoken though tears and still remembered, are the prayers for a horse and the one to live on a farm. And those are the ones God answered. He set me up with a husband who, although he was raised in the city all his life, wanted to live in the country as badly as I did. Oh, and He threw in the one other thing I was always drawn to when we lived in Harlem (Kansas City). The Missouri River! I could cross the gravel-covered levee and walk right down to the edge of it back then, or climb up to the ASB bridge and look down on it. And while I didn't think to pray for a home near it, there was something comforting about the hugeness and power of it that touched my soul. So God put icing on the cake when he moved me to Lafayette County onto six acres that magically became over 40 acres a few years later (another answered prayer). I got my horse, I got my "farm", the farm grew larger, and I rode my horse along the Missouri River many, many times.
How's that for answered prayers? I may not get excited about holidays any more, but I do get excited about how God answered every prayer I prayed as a child that was important for my lifelong happiness. His first answer was always "just wait", even though I sometimes took that as "no". Then, at a time when I'd almost forgotten those prayers, they were answered at the perfect times.
So how could I help but give thanks that God, in His mercy, answered the prayers of a little reprobate kid who always seemed to go her own way. I still call myself "God's special-needs child", because I've stepped out of line quite a bit. But don't ever think I don't realize Who arranged my life in such a way that all my prayers were answered.
That's my Thanksgiving. If you, like me, tend to get a little down around the holidays, just think back to the prayers answered (or wishes granted, for my atheist readers).
Most of us can come up with some gratitude.