Friday, November 29, 2013

Tradition and Gratitude

As I sit here in a hotel room in Raleigh, NC this Thanksgiving weekend, I am struck by my surroundings and how they are in stark contrast to what a "normal" Thanksgiving is to me. Normally, I cook for 2 or 3 days before Thanksgiving ever comes, spend the actual day cooking and baking, then watching my family consume all that goodness in what seems like the blink of an eye (although we do linger at the table, nibbling, long after the meal is finished). We generally spend the afternoon playing board games or hanging out around the TV watching football, sometimes going for a walk if the weather permits and just enjoying being home, and usually end the day with a movie together. And it feels "right" to me, like that's how Thanksgiving "should" be. And it seems that's how it "should" be because that's how it's been for 30 years in our family.

This year, instead of cooking and baking all morning, we were on the road, leaving at 6:30 AM to be in Raleigh with one of our sons and his wife for Thanksgiving. We spent the day with our son, his wife,  and his in-laws....and they did all the I visited with them, and took pictures, and reminisced with my kids, and, although I helped with dinner, I did not make dinner, did not plan the menu, was not responsible for making sure the potatoes did not get cold while the turkeys finished cooking, etc.

After a delightful dinner, we spent the afternoon visiting, eating pie, playing with their two new puppies and having a good time together. Instead of cleaning up one last time and filling the dishwasher for the 3rd time in a day, we left and went to a hotel, got checked in and settled for a quiet evening of hanging out together, making and receiving phone calls from all the other kids, texting back and forth with some of my kids and my sisters and catching up with our people via Facebook and email.

Not our traditional Thanksgiving by a long shot.

Traditionally, I spend the day after Thanksgiving putting up my Christmas village, covering my baby grand piano with "snow" and lighted houses and little businesses making up a town. This is a nearly all day event as it takes time to plan a village and put it together.

Today, we are spending the day going to museums with our son and daughter-in-law, then having dinner with them tonight in their apartment.

This is not our traditional day-after-Thanksgiving activity by a long shot.

But, it's oh, so sweet! And oh, so nice. And I'm thankful that while family traditions are nice, the holiday is no less special when tradition is thrown out the window and we get the opportunity to do something completely different and find that they are just as satisfying to our "traditional" sense.

The traditions of being together, of pausing in our busy lives to acknowledge the Source of all good and of giving to one another are traditions that can be carried out no matter our location. Whether I am in the kitchen or the front passenger seat, we are keeping our tradition of celebrating what we have to be thankful for. And we have a LOT to be thankful for. And we know that the Source is our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

And I am grateful, not just this weekend that's been set aside for gratitude, but always, always grateful for the great things my God has done in my life and in my family.

Praise be.

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