Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Thanksgiving is here and many of us are busy planning our menus, collecting our recipes, creating our shopping lists, cleaning the house and preparing for guests. The focus is on the family dinner and time with people we love. If you are like me, this traditional dinner includes favorite dishes and a few special new recipes. There are high expectations for this annual meal. Truth be told, if there is a dish that fails to measure up to the memories of that delectable delight, it could mean catastrophe.
The turkey dressing is one of those favorite traditional items on the menu in our house. The recipe calls for a sage/sausage/onion combination, cooked inside the bird and spooned out right before dinner. Over the years, many have attempted to deviate from this recipe by making it gluten- free, using cornbread, or adding apples, cranberries, or walnuts. In spite of the efforts to expand our palate experiences, the consensus is always to return to the traditional version.
Yet, even a favorite, such as this delectable dressing, has the potential to become the unfortunate foible and the focus of family folklore for years to come! It happened years ago, and it is legendary in our family. My mother was a wonderful cook and hosted Thanksgiving for many years. She always had the perfect combination of traditional dishes with a few new recipes from the most recent McCall’s or Woman’s Day magazine. She would always tear out the colorful pictures and create her menu with great care, but I never remember her experimenting with the dressing.
That particular Thanksgiving meal began with the traditional prayer, the Doxology and the circle of gratitude, where each person shares something for which they are thankful. Then we all took our places at the long dining room table to indulge in the anticipated culinary delights. We passed the dishes to the right, exclaiming over the bounty of variety and making sure we filled our plates with our favorites. Conversation centered on compliments to the chef and catching up on each other’s activities. However, when we each took a bite of the dressing, the entire group quieted down! It appeared there was an added, unexpected ingredient. We crunched and commented on the unique texture, when my mother gasped and ordered all of us to spoon our dressing back into the serving bowl. She quickly whisked the bowl of dressing off the table, apologized and refused to give us any explanation.
It wasn’t until the meal was over that she finally confessed to us. She explained that after staying up late to finish the last of the holiday pies, she went to bring the dressing inside from the garage where it was cooling. Being exhausted from the week’s preparations for the family, she tripped as she was carrying the large bowl and it dropped onto the floor . . . upside down. Sickened by the thought of losing the dressing, she attempted to rescue some of it, not realizing that the entire batch was contaminated with sand from the garage floor. Her horror and dismay was evident as she described the blunder. It has become one of those infamous family stories that is resurrected each time we are together for Thanksgiving.
As much as we seek the perfect Norman Rockwell image for our family holidays, sometimes it is the imperfections that provide experiences that unite us. Despite the meal without turkey stuffing that year, we truly had one of our most memorable Thanksgivings. For it is not the meal that makes the holiday, but it is the time spent together with those we love. Even the disasters can become cherished memories. This Thanksgiving, don’t let the insignificant things distract you from the joy that comes from being with loved ones and giving thanks to God in all circumstances.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Dear Lord, You are the giver of all good things. During this season of gratitude, help me to recognize the gifts you give me each day in the relationships of those around me. Instead of being focused on my expectations, help me to recognize the blessings in the unexpected. Instead of being absorbed in my own concerns, help me rejoice in all circumstances and give you thanks. Amen
Happy Thanksgiving! When I think of my blessings, I am grateful for you. Knowing that God is blessing you through these devotions is encouraging and humbling. Thank you!