Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving - Thursday

The best day of the year is almost here.  A holiday devoted to family, food, and giving thanks to God.  What could possibly be better?  I rise with the sun to morning taquitos and homemade salsa.  The adults and children come in early.  The teenage cousins straggle in late.

Games and talking and singing mingle with the smells and sounds of cooking.  Everyone is preparing their dishes.  This food has become a part of us.  A part of the love we share together.  Aunt Carol's dressing.  Aunt June and Aunt Dee's pies.  Aunt Eva's giblet gravy.  My Momma's fudge.  The list is long.

We stand around the kitchen helping with the dumplings.  There are dumpling makers.  Dumpling droppers.  Dumpling stirrers.  Some years we even have dumpling fanners.  There is talk about the right way to do things and, of course, the wrong. 

In my mind's eye I see Mammaw making them on the counter at Uncle Kenny's house.  I am young and full of questions.  She answers and keeps on working.  Old hands that know their task well.  I am fascinated.  But there are games to be played, a creek to explore, cousins to see.  How I wish I had stayed longer.  Memorized her movements.

Sighing, I close my eyes, and I can see her, years later, in her chair.  Too old, too tired to make them herself, but still directing.  Still ruling the roost.  Then, I recall her last year with pain.  Remembering her frailty, I am relieved she is now strong once more.

As we remember, we work and cook and make new memories until the feast is finally ready.  Cooks proudly lay their food out on the serving table.  Mommas call their kids inside.  Grandmas count their grandchildren.  We circle around the room - a circle so full of love and memories and faith.  Everyone is here.  Almost.

She is gone.

My heart has an empty space inside.  But I look around and see her face in so many of my siblings and cousins.  What was empty is once again full.

We join hands to pray.  It is beautiful.  We begin to sing:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

My cup overflows.  I hold my baby girls' hands and try to keep my tears from falling.  The blessings in my life are surrounding me.  They are these people.  These memories.  This love.  This faith.  I can barely sing.

Praise Him all creatures here below.

All of us think on who is not there.  Our Mother, our Mammaw who is now in heaven.  This great woman who began our Thanksgiving  tradition.  Our Father, our Pappaw.  This great man I never knew who shaped the lives of those older than me.  In my mind he is a legend who loved wide and deep.  I cannot wait to meet him.

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.

The two now sing these same praises at the feet of Jesus.  Their voices ring out, joining the great cloud of witnesses that went on before them.  There, they wait for us.  Can their faith save us?  No.  They chose Jesus and wrote Him on their lives.  While here they prayed for us to embrace this faith in their Christ.  In Heaven they hope and pray for the day when they can look around the feast and see that none of theirs are missing.  I join them in this fervent prayer. 

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

I think about the day when I will join them.  To see Mammaw healthy and happy.  To introduce myself to Pappaw and hug him for the first time.  To embrace all Hattons there before me.  To wait with them for the rest to come.  Truly Heaven must be an eternal Thanksgiving.  I look ahead with longing.  We all sing:


There will be more.  More years and memories.  More babies.  More joy.  More Amens.  And when we get to Heaven the praise will be sweeter.  The feasting fuller.  And the love deeper.  Until then, dig in and happy Thanksgiving.

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