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The Tradition of Thanks     Thanksgiving2

By Barb Mazarakos 


I love Thanksgiving- always have. When I was a child, it meant coming out of choir practice the night before to lightly falling snow, and waking the next morning to the smell of freshly made cinnamon rolls (from the Pillsbury can, of course!) while my dad started to prepare our Thanksgiving Feast. We would sit in front of the television gorging our faces with sticky goodness and watching float after float, always trying to get a glimpse of our favorites (Snoopy!) After our family had dinner, we would help Dad clean up and then fall asleep in shifts watching Christmas movies and spread out in the living room with grins on our overly-full faces (Dad has always found a special joy in the challenge of finding the absolute largest turkey he could fit in the oven, even when it was just the four of us).
As I got older, it became about blending activities as our family changed. We’d go from my now-husband’s family of 50 plus where we would literally eat in shifts, using covered air hockey tables for dinner and playing football in the street (those who were there early enough knew not to park too close to the house), back to my dad’s quiet house where the then-5 of us would eat some more and enjoy each other’s company. Over the years we have seen my side of the family grow from four to 11 and we still enjoy each other’s company while we watch OUR children- cousins, now old enough to know each other and play together- run around the house. The celebration with my in-law’s has also changed, as the family has both grown through marriage and children, splitting off into smaller fragments now to include everyone’s respective traditions, but also gotten a bit smaller as some have gone on to celebrate in Heaven. In both settings, family has always been the star and meals always start with prayer, be it the common table prayer at my house or the Lord’s Prayer in Greek with my in-law’s. To paraphrase my sainted mother in-law, “everyone but one (Satan) is welcome in my house”, and that was never more true than at Thanksgiving.
Though so much has changed over the years, many things have not. I still get up on Thanksgiving and make cinnamon rolls from the can, and I still try to get my kids to watch the parade with me (though they aren’t as impressed with it as I am). We still go to Dad’s in the house I grew up in, and he still has way too much food (two new nephews in the last 16 months will guarantee the search for the 30 pound turkey has already started!) And I am still thankful. So very thankful. Because I know that there are places in this world where the bounty that we will all enjoy in a few short weeks without giving much (if any) thought as to “where” the food came from is a gluttonous gift to those who have a bowl of rice or beans twice a day every day, and they didn’t just drive to the store to get it. I know that the roof over my head and the warm home we celebrate in is a gift that our brothers and sisters in places like Haiti would appreciate every single day if they could have the same safety in their own lives. I know there are people who have no one to spend holidays with, yet like so many others I often complain of “too many” invitations (a habit I have consciously made an effort to stop, by the way) each winter.
I am blessed. I know that. And I try to make a tradition of thanking God for those blessings each and every day. So I ask you, this Thanksgiving before you get involved in meal prep and parades, keep up the tradition of being thankful. Go to church with your family the evening before ( worship with Holy Communion will be celebrated at 11am and 7pm here at Christ Lutheran). Give thanks to God for what you have; He HAS been good to you. And then take some time to enjoy those other traditions: family, good food, football. Celebrate each day what is important to you, because let’s be honest- life is too short not to live it in gratitude. May God’s blessings be abundant to you and your family this Thanksgiving and always, and may you always remember to simply say “thank you”.

“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:34