At first glance, one might think the row of pre-teens to teenagers in the front pew to be a group of highly devout Christians that could not get close enough to the front to be sure to hear the preacher. But as the last “Amen” comes from the pulpit and they bolt for the side door it becomes clear they are sitting there because it is the fastest way out when the service is over.
We were not bad kids. Just sitting still and staying quiet that long for us back then was a bit of a struggle. We were used to running with reckless abandon through the streets and woods of our small little town.
Most Sundays after service we would find ourselves at Grandma’s house. My mother was one of eight kids so the house was full of the adults, having each prepared and brought a dish, making final preparations for lunch while us kids played Hide-And-Go-Seek or diving off the ditch holding on for dear life to the rope swing we had “engineered” onto a low hanging branch. There was more than one occasion where either the rope or the branch gave way.
Looking back, I see how I took all that for granted. It was just how things were and to have it any different would have been just strange. Now, I would not let my kids run through the street because in the news almost daily you hear of someone being abducted. Back when I was a kid in that small town (280 people) everyone knew everyone and what everyone was up to. There are good and bad sides to that coin, I know.
But as Thanksgiving draws near, I am reminded of those Sunday lunches at Grandma’s. She has since passed and our family that was once concentrated in that small town has scattered to all parts of this great country. I am reminded of my Uncles that would bring the fish they had caught or the deer they had hunted, cleaned, and prepared. I remember my aunts working tirelessly in the kitchen to make many a wonderful dish. I recall the time with my cousins as we ran through the fields and dirt roads playing G. I. Joe or riding our bikes off make-shift ramps. I remember love.
And while Thanksgiving at my house maybe a little smaller these days, the love is still there. I use some of those same recipes that my Aunts and Uncles used and share them with my kids. We gather and laugh and play and enjoy each other company, each one of us giving our time to the other. The time that we give of ourselves. Giving that time to our loved ones is a selfish act because we receive the benefit of that time with them. It is a selfish act that benefits not only us but those that we choose to give it to.
My hope is that years from now, my children will look back on those moments and remember to be grateful for the times that were easier. Remember the time with your family. Remember love. Remember to be thankful.