Monday, November 19, 2018

Thanksgiving…the Understudy

Thanksgiving…these days it seems like Thanksgiving is the very underpaid, under-noticed understudy to Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas; it’s the most amazing holiday where every light seems brighter, food tastes better, and everyone is so jolly and generous.  I repeat…I love Christmas!

However, I really LOVE taking time to be thankful, and I feel like the best time 
to do that is Thanksgiving (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a turkey
farmer)!  My family has loved Thanksgiving from before we even began raising 
the proverbial “bird of honor.”

Nigel Hamilton said, “Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness and gratitude.” 
Thanksgiving has been a rich tradition in my mom’s family her entire life.  
Her mom hosted a traditional Thanksgiving feast most of her adult married 
life, then the torch was passed to my aunt who hosted an amazing feast for 
my mom’s side of the family for many, many years.  It was at some point 
after my mom’s parents (my grandparents) had both passed away that my 
parents took on the tradition of hosting the Thanksgiving holiday gathering.  
I don’t have many memories of the Thanksgivings before the ones hosted 
by my parents, but when I hear my relatives talk with the fondness of the 
tradition and the memories of the holidays past, it’s almost like I was there.  
I can see through a slightly foggy lens the smiles and almost hear the muffled 
laugher; I can almost smell the aroma of the turkey cooking. I can actually 
feel their time of togetherness and gratitude in my heart. I’m thankful for the 
traditions that were laid before me.

“Be present in all thing and thankful for all things” – Maya Angelou.  In my 
memories, it’s the happiness I see in my mom’s heart as she begins 
preparations for the big feast.Yes, for sure it’s a lot of work to host 35 
people for dinner. I’m going to be honest and tell you, our house gets dusted 
so well on the week before Thanksgiving; every square inch of the floor gets 
vacuumed and windows and light fixtures get washed, twice.  There are not 
always my favorite tasks, and it’s fair to say my mom is a little drill sergeant-ish. 
The shopping gets done, the groceries are carried in and the meal is prepped.  
Although the tasks are many, I am so grateful to have this opportunity and 
that I can be present and in the moment to help prepare for all the things that 
continue to make our tradition (and I don’t mind drill sergeant mom that much).

Melody Beattie Said, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.”  So after all the 
cleaning and shopping is done, then comes the preparing, cooking and setup. 
At my house, it’s a tradition to help prep the food on Wednesday night. My 
siblings and I chop vegetables for stuffing, slice apples for pie and take out the 
buns to rise.  We wipe down the good silverware ,and we get the fancy water 
glasses out of the high cupboards. We set out tables and chairs, and we 
watch my mom iron tablecloths (she doesn’t trust us to iron).  We are lucky 
to have a life full of learning how to host a family tradition. My siblings and 
I don’t take these life lessons for granted, even if we argue over who has to 
carry up all the folding chairs.

I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage”- Erma Bombeck.   
Me too, Erma, me too.  I can’t even tell you how delicious our meal is.  
I know I am really, really blessed to have all of these traditions.  
I know everyone may celebrate differently, and some families may enjoy 
a vegetarian meal, a pizza supper or a grilled steak on Thanksgiving.  
But that’s the key; it’s not what you eat, it’s who you are with and what you 
remember to be thankful for.  At my house, I am blessed because my mom 
knows the secret to making AMAZING gravy.  I hope someday I will be able 
to duplicate her recipe, and I’m thankful I get to be by her side each year 
and taste test her “best gravy yet.” Oh, and our turkey is pretty amazing too!

“Thanksgiving day is a jewel, to set in hearts of honest men; but be careful that 
you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.” – E.P. Powell.  Don’t get 
caught up in the hype of big three:  Food, Football and Family. Don’t let the 
gravy, pigskin or baby cousins deter you or hold you back from taking time to 
be thankful or showing your gratitude.  And don’t just do it in one day. Make it 
season of your life - show gratitude daily!

And so, Thanksgiving…What a tremendous holiday, so many things, how do 
we know what to be thankful for?  I’ll close with the words of Charlie Brown: 
“What if today, we were grateful for everything?” Friends, as I wish you a very 
Happy Thanksgiving, I challenge you to take a minute.  A minute to show 
others your gratitude. A minute to tell someone you’re thankful for their 
friendship. A minute to pay your blessings forward.  A minute to be grateful 
for everything.

Minnesota FFA, I am grateful for you.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Stationed beneath the Rising Sun,
Grace Taylor

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