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 those people we love. If you are like me, the dinner includes favorite traditional dishes and a few special new recipes. This is the annual meal that holds high expectations from all. Truth be told, if there is a dish that fails to measure up to the expectations of the memories, it could mean catastrophe.
The turkey dressing is one of those favorite traditional dish items on the menu. In our house the recipe for the stuffing is typically 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 with cornbread, adding apples, cranberries, or even walnuts. In spite of the efforts to expand our palate experiences, the consensus is to return to the traditional sausage, sage dish.
Yet, even a favorite, such as this delectable dressing, has the potential of becoming the unfortunate foible that grows into the focus of family folklore for years to come! It happened years ago, but 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 ones to try. However, I never remember her experimenting with the dressing.
This particular Thanksgiving meal began with the traditional prayer, the doxology and the circle of gratitude, where each person shared something for which they were thankful. Then we all took our places at the table to indulge in the anticipated culinary delights. However, when we each took a bite of the dressing, there was an added unexpected ingredient. As we crunched and commented on the unique texture, my mother gasped and ordered all of us to spoon our dressing back into the serving bowl. She quickly whisked it off of the table, apologized and refused to talk about the dressing.
It wasn’t until the meal was completed that she finally confessed to us. After staying up late, to finish the last of the holiday pies, mom brought in the dressing from the garage where it was cooling. Being exhausted from the week’s preparations for the family, she tripped and the bowl of dressing dropped onto the floor upside down. Sickened by the thought of losing the dressing for the dinner, 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.
As much as we seek the perfect Norman Rockwell image for our family holidays, sometimes it is the feared imperfections that unite us in shared experiences. Despite having a meal without turkey stuffing that year, we had one of our most memorable Thanksgivings. For it is not the perfect meal that makes the holiday, but it is the memories and common experiences shared with those we love. This Thanksgiving, don’t let the insignificant things such as dressing disasters distract you from the joy that comes from being with loved ones. Give 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
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