Yesterday, the aroma of pies in the oven, and the day before, the delightful smell of cookies baking, reminded me of those Thanksgivings in days of yore. Those long ago days when my paternal grandparents and my parents were still living and made Thanksgiving a very special time. The smell of the turkey roasting, the festive table with all the condiments, and my grandfather’s Thanksgiving prayer before we enjoyed the feast are an indelible part of my Thanksgiving memories. Eventually my parents assumed the responsibility for the feast in their home to relieve my grandparents. As the years went by, and I had a family of my own, we traveled back to New Jersey for years to be with my parents (my grandparents for a little while) and siblings to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
Somewhere along the way we began to celebrate Thanksgiving at our home with our own growing family, no longer making the annual trip to be with my parents. In fact, my parents began to have Thanksgiving dinner with my eldest brother and his family. Now more years have passed and we no longer have Thanksgiving dinner here at our home. Our eldest son and his wife will host us today. How the years shape our lives and our celebrations! Remembering Thanksgivings of my yesterdays awakens deep emotions. Gratitude is an emotion. Gratitude would mean little if it did not include “feelings.”
“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.
Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God” (Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey).