I feel like writing, so here I am. I’m tired from the activities of the week, but we had a great Thanksgiving, and we enjoyed having three of our grandkids stay overnight on Thursday. One thing I know is that my days of being a full-time mommy are long past. I didn’t realize how hard I worked back then because I was young and strong and full of vinegar. Not any more!
Anyway, at first I thought I might say a few pointed words about the shopping frenzy. Then I looked at a video of a fight over electronics at the Walmart in Somewhere, USA. It made me sick and ashamed, and I don’t feel like giving it any more space than I just did. I’m pleased to report that no one from this household did ANY shopping on Thursday or Friday!
So I’m going to use some thoughts I had this week as I was preparing for the meal on Thursday. I hope what I’m sharing here will trigger your own memories, and that you’ll feel free to share them with me.
When I was two, my family moved from western Colorado to southern Minnesota. Quite a change–from the Rockies to the prairies. I, of course, don’t remember the move itself. My memories start to come in when I was three, I think, and most of them are vague. My dad hadn’t yet surrendered his life to the Lord at that point, and he was a weekend beer drunk, fresh out of the Navy and World War II. He was not pleased that my mom had become a Christian while he was off to war, and he made that painfully clear.
One memory I have is of my mom getting my sister and me off to bed early, probably on a Friday or Saturday night, so that we’d be out of the way when Dad came home. I remember that she fixed us hard-boiled eggs with butter and salt and pepper, a favorite of mine to this day.
I also remember nightmares I had when we lived in the trailer there in Fairmont, Minnesota. I could hear footsteps every night as I was falling asleep, and it terrified me. I just knew that a bad witch was coming for me. Finally, my mom and dad figured out that I was hearing my own heartbeat as I lay on my side with my hand tucked under my ear. It’s funny now, but it wasn’t funny then!
In time, some people from the First Baptist Church in Fairmont came knocking at our door, inviting us to Sunday school and church. At first, Mom just sent Sandy and me. She herself dearly wanted to go, but she was afraid of Dad’s reaction. Eventually, though, she became brave enough to start going herself. Then Pastor Peterson began to visit, talking with my dad and urging him to come to church.
Dad had accepted the Lord as his Savior when he was 14; however, apparently there was no one who discipled him, and when he went off to war, he became bitter against God and wanted nothing to do with religion.
Pastor Peterson, who became a lifelong friend, persisted. He was a brave man, I think. Dad did agree to come to church, and I have vague memories of his being there. It was a cold Minnesota winter, and I remember his grey topcoat. I liked the smell of it when he would pick me up to carry me across the icy parking lot.
Still, Dad resisted God’s call on his life until one night, probably after midnight, he knew what he had to do. He drove to Pastor Peterson’s, banging on the door because he knew they’d be asleep. At first, Pastor thought he was drunk and angry; then he realized what was happening. That night, my dad surrendered his life to preach, and our journey through his schooling and his being a pastor had begun.
Meanwhile, there was a family in the church that adopted our family. The Looft family was so wonderful to us! They were a farm family, salt of the earth people who welcomed us as if we were truly blood relations. I don’t remember how old I was when I first realized they weren’t really related to us, but it didn’t matter. Grandma and Grandpa Looft, their three daughters and their son, and all their grandchildren, became our best friends for many years. Several of the children were around our age. We loved being with them, and some of my best memories are of the holidays we spent on Johnnie and Jeannie’s farm near Fairmont.
The farmhouse was huge, full of bedrooms, closets, and other delightful places for playing hide-and-seek. We had the run of the house, and we used it well. While the adults talked and laughed downstairs, we had a blast upstairs. When the weather permitted, we were outdoors playing in the snow during the cold months, or working up a game of baseball in the warm weather. There was always a lot of laughter. I felt so secure, safe, wanted and loved with all of them.
Thanksgiving was a wonderful time. This was a family that Norman Rockwell would have painted if he’d known them! Walking into the kitchen from the cold outdoors was a treat all by itself. The aroma of turkey, ham, and other savory treats was overwhelming. There would be all the women, each doing some chore, laughing and talking as they worked. The men would be in the other room, the low rumble of their voices and the occasional shout of laughter drawing me like a magnet.
At mealtime, you’d have thought you were at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Ham, turkey, so many side dishes you couldn’t sample them all; dinner rolls, relishes, pickles, olives, cranberries, sweet potatoes, stuffing—oh my, it was truly a feast. There was one table that held all the food, and another big table where the adults sat to eat. We kids would load up our plates and sit at card tables and trays wherever we could find room, and the feasting commenced with gusto and ended with bursting tummies.
Then came dessert. So many kinds of pie I can’t even remember them all. Pumpkin, mincemeat, pecan, apple, cherry, lemon meringue, banana cream–the food table was full again just with dessert. Once we’d all had all we could stuff into our already full stomachs, the clearing up and putting away began. At that point, we kids were free to do whatever, especially anything that would get us out from underfoot.
Such wonderful memories. To spend Thanksgiving with a Christian family that loved us was a gift we’d fully appreciate only as we grew older. They were part of our lives for years, and I still miss them. We’re all over the country now, and have lost touch for the most part, but they’re all still in my heart and always will be: Darlene, Margie, and Marilyn especially, because they were the ones we spent the most time with as we were growing up and they were the ones who lived on a farm in Iowa that my sister and I got to visit for two weeks in the summer while we still lived in Minnesota. Wonderful times, wonderful friends.
And that, dear reader, is what Thanksgiving should be about. We didn’t have Black Friday back then. Those were the good old days.