On this day, during which we count our blessings and spend time with family, I have to admit that I am really jazzed about writing. I have been considering the many topics that I could choose, and there are many, but after I got the turkey in the oven this morning, I knew that I just had to write about preparing the traditional feast, because it almost didn’t happen this year….
As you already know, if you have been reading the past several days, we have spent two days this week in Chicago with Janet’s sister, Debbie. She needed a medical procedure and we wanted to be up there with her. And although we wouldn’t have missed it for anything, we got a little behind in shopping for our traditional Thanksgiving Day celebration. Jill, our daughter from Oklahoma, is in town with her husband, Tom, and their son, Drew, so they watched Lexie while we were gone.
Usually, Jill’s family is here for the Christmas celebration, and for her birthday, which is January 1st, but this year, they want Drew to be home for Christmas morning, starting to build his own memories with their nuclear family. Therefore, we all decided to spend Thanksgiving together and it has been a blessing in many ways. Since Jill grew up here, it is like old home week. She knows everyone and she always slides seamlessly back into her life here.
But when Janet and I arrived back home, we were hopelessly behind with our shopping. Since I have been assisting at Byrd’s Cafeteria, Janet and I thought about just buying the turkey and all the trimmings from them. Even though I felt a little guilty – especially with Jill here and all – we had pretty much decided to go ahead and bag the cooking of the traditional turkey; in favor of a purchased one. The idea was reinforced when I went to O’Malia’s Grocery and they couldn’t find our turkey order. But, as I was heading out of the store, the manager came running up to me and let me know that they had found the reservation and had my turkey in hand. So, I decided to buy stuffing ingredients and headed home, perhaps even a little unsure if I had made the right decision this year.
Jill’s not even a big turkey eater, but when she came all the way from OK to spend the day with us, it was just a moment before I was convicted that I should cook the traditional turkey. After all, Janet and I were married in 1973 and I have made the turkey every year since then – yes, every year! And I still get out my mother’s Pope cookbook and use the same method of preparation that my grandparents taught my Mom when she was a little girl, and that she passed down to me when I used to work in the kitchen with her. Cooking times are listed on page 179 and I no longer need to even open the book, but it’s part of the tradition and I can’t imagine fixing the bird without re-living the times with my mother in the kitchen – way back from my earliest childhood.
The kids have all grown to love the turkeys I cook each year; and for the first time, Jill helped me last night. It was a real special time. Usually Janet assists, but she had her annual physical yesterday and with all the things that have happened this week, she was really dog tired. So Jill stepped in to assist. We fixed the stuffing together; cooking the celery and the onions, mixing everything just right. Then, we prepared the turkey so I wouldn’t have to get up so early this morning. I had forgotten how well Jill and I work together. Barely the need to even speak instructions. She’s just intuitive that way.
For years, the entire family has said that Jill thinks more the way I that do than Kristin and Andrew, and certainly in the business world, that is true. But I sensed the connection on a different level in the kitchen last night and I am sure that she did also. Anticipating the next move, Jill was all over it. She was a huge help. As tired as I was, it was a real blessing to me that I will remember for a long time. Kristin and Andrew have also helped from time to time throughout the years, so now all of them have worked with me, just as I helped my Mom and Dad for so many years when I was a boy. I am sure that all of you have experienced similar events in your life – those special little snippets of memory that become locked in your brain forever.
So, the preparation of the Thanksgiving turkey passes on to another generation. There is a spot in my heart that hopes that the legacy outlives me – something that connects us to past generations and is unique in our family. It just wouldn’t be the same if we bought the turkey already cooked; or headed out to a restaurant. Perhaps, someday, our family tradition will change, but not this year…..
The verse for today is from Heb. 12:28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…” The writer of Hebrews is affirming that the love of Christ and spending eternity with Him is something that absolutely can’t be taken away. My encouragement today is to rest in the knowledge that God is on the throne and because of Christ’s sacrifice for us, we are assured of eternal peace. And my prayer is that you will spend at least a little time today, and throughout the year, thanking God for His goodness and generosity, as all our needs are met in Him. Happy Thanksgiving, and may the peace of God be with you this Thanksgiving Day; and always.