I scooted over for about the dozenth time from my spot on the porch steps to let one of my older cousins pass, and tried to balance my too-full plate on my eight-year-old lap without spilling. Mom always insisted I have new clothes for Thanksgiving—not sure why. I always ended up spilling on it, or covered with East Texas red dirt from playing chase with the cousins. I settled back in my place, only to move again when I heard the screen door slam behind me.
Why I insisted on sitting on the high-traffic steps, I’ll never know. It was a hassle, for sure. But it was also the best spot in the house. After all, I got tickled or teased or squeezed by everyone who passed that way, and I kind of liked the attention.
Thanksgiving is about remembering. It’s about remembering the people who’ve touched our lives, and made them better. It’s about remembering things that made us laugh. Or, it’s about laughing at things which once annoyed us. Truly, Thanksgiving is about recalling the beautiful, the silly, the sweet things we often forget to remember.
This morning, I’ve taken a trip down memory lane, and it’s been a fun trip. Like cleaning out the attic, I’ve found memories in the dusty corners of my mind that I haven’t thought about in years. Like the way I squealed whenever Uncle Odell came near. He always, always pulled out his pocket knife and threatened to cut off one of my pigtails. “You’ve got two!” he’d say. “Why can’t you share one?”
Or the way Mary Frances and Kathy managed to look like movie stars while spreading the lace tablecloth over the deep freeze, turning it into a dessert table. Or the way Memaw’s eyes twinkled, even as she wiped the sweat off her brow after cooking all morning.
I remember the tiny wood-frame house that never seemed too small, even with fifty-something people spilling out of every corner. We never ate at the dining room table; there wasn’t room after all the food was set out. So we found spots in the living room, or in one of the bedrooms, or on the front porch or the back porch, or on the steps. When all those spots were filled, the uncles would pull down their tailgates and perch there to eat. Or, they’d just set their plates on the tailgate and eat standing up.
I remember Mom and Anice talking about the wonders of Mary Kay lipgloss, or catching up on which former classmates had married or had babies. I remember the way Aunt Doris sounded when she called my mom’s name. “Sue Nell? Sue Nell!” Actually, it came out more like “Sue-NAYell.”
I remember the way my dad and Jerry Paul and Marvin and Marlin and Maurice and Odell discussed hunting and trucks and football, and Shelby and Melvin chimed in, wanting to be men.
I remember taking walks down the old dirt road with Kenny and April. We were the three youngest, and I was the oldest of our set. I felt important and mature when I was with them, like I needed to take care of them. But once, when we made it all the way to the creek and watched a water moccasin slip beneath the dark waters, I left them in my dust. (Sorry, Kenny and April. Glad you got out of that alive.)
But I don’t have to dig back to my childhood to find things that make me smile. God is so good, He blesses me every single day. I love thinking about the way my dad teases my kids, and threatens to eat their apple pie. I love the way Mom fusses over her cornbread dressing, and declares it a failure, even though it always tastes like heaven. I love the way my kids and Shelby’s kids disappear together, and come back snickering and looking like the cat that ate the canary. I even love the way Shelby still treats me like I’m his kid sister, like I don’t have any sense, though I’ll never admit that to him. But at my age, it’s kinda nice to be thought of as “young”.
I love the way my husband shows he loves me every day by filling up my car with gas, and making special trips to the grocery store, and texting me sweet “I-love-you” messages. I love the way my kids both still like to spend one-on-one time with their mom. I love that I have so many people to love.
I could go on and on. But you get the idea—I’m blessed. And when I take a moment to really think about all the things I have to be thankful for, those memories seem to swell and multiply in my mind, and before I know it, there’s not any room for the stress, or hurt, or the unpleasant things in life. When we dwell on the beautiful things, the ugly gets pushed out and discarded. It’s a pretty cool system, if you ask me.
Thanksgiving is all about remembering the good things. And truly, my cup overflows.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things,” Philippians 4:8.