Thanksgiving. I grew up with a certain concept of what Thanksgiving looked like in my family. Each time this holiday rolled around, my mom would be preparing a few days in advance for the family celebration that would occur. On Thanksgiving Day, all my aunts, uncles and cousins would gather at one of my relative's home and we would spend the entire day enjoying each other’s company, the food that was prepared, the football games on the television and the various table games that would ensue a few hours later. What a brave aunt I had that she would invite such a gangly crew of us to invade her home in the middle of November in upstate NY! Many a year we came fitted with snow boots and gloves on ourselves and with snow tires already placed on the cars. All 80-some people would traipse through those doors bringing the snow and cinders and would be greeted by the chattering in the kitchen or the men discussing the football games that had already begun. We came to celebrate family and holiday, but most of all we came as a family to thank the Lord in heaven for all His provisions that past year. Thanksgiving.
Years later, a continent away, and another setting entirely, John and I brought our church family together to share with them the traditions us Americans grew up with in celebrating this special day. One would have laughed if they were to have followed us around Thanksgiving week! From going to the butcher and ordering 3 turkeys and hearing the “Ah oui! La grande fête pour les Americans.” Oui. C’est ça. And then bringing those beautiful French turkeys home and immediately seeing they must have been “runners” because their legs would just not fit in our standard-sized oven! Désolé, mais… off come the legs! (I secretly named them Louis I, II & III)
Another element that we wanted to bring to the table to share with people was that strange entity called cranberry sauce. How great is some homemade cranberry sauce with the turkey, stuffing and gravy? It brings just that needed tartness to the entire meal. Unfortunately, this is one berry that needs to be imported in France and is hard to find. So, six stores later I eyed just a few containers of cranberries, did a little jig in the store and proceeded to scoop them all up. Perfect!
Now for dessert… Did you know that Libby’s canned pumpkin is not found readily outside the United States? I laugh because I grew up on the convenience of Libbys, but have found I enjoy the real pumpkin purée so much better than my old friend, Libby. However, when you are cooking for a crowd, convenience takes priority. So we turned to the classic apple!
But you know, even though there is excitement in sharing one’s culture with the people around you, there is a greater thrill to be able to share one’s deep thankfulness to the Creator God for all that He has done. What a joy to be able express thankfulness to God for His faithfulness in generations past and for His faithfulness to generations yet to come. During the course of the night, John had us all read Psalms 100 together. And verse 1 commands “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” All the earth… Being thankful to God is a characteristic that all people’s of the earth are to exude. For us that know Christ personally, wherever we live around the world, we have the honor of walking daily through life with a thankful heart.
As I reflected on this truth throughout the night, I realized that I was not really sharing the ultimate Thanksgiving experience with these wonderful people. They already had that opportunity each and every day on their own - to be thankful and to walk in that thankfulness. I was instead just sharing with them a traditional day in my culture that would help to turn our hearts toward thankfulness. … and also maybe sharing the oddity of cranberry sauce!
Wife, mother, teacher & friend who loves to "do life" alongside others as we journey together in seeking to know God more fully and deeply. Feel free to join with us as walk through a few "French fields" ...
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