I have an old book titled LET'S MAKE A MEMORY written by Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson. It was published in 1983. I bought it at a thrift store many years ago when I was just starting out as a wife and mother. I just love this book. One of my favorite parts of the book is a section Shirley Dobson wrote about Thanksgiving at her house.
THANKSGIVING AT THE DOBSONS...
Thanksgiving is given major prominence in the Dobson home. It marks the beginning of the holiday season and the happy gathering with relatives who live close by. When the day arrives, excitement and anticipation fill the air. Wonderful mouth-watering aromas of turkey, dressing and apple pies float from the kitchen as family members arrive. A new jigsaw puzzle is placed on the card table with a pot of hot coffee near-by. Various lawn games are set up in the backyard and a spirited basket-ball game is soon organized on the driveway.
When dinnertime is announced, we gather around the table and Jim reads a Scripture. Everyone takes the hand of the person sitting next to him and Jim prays a prayer of thankfulness to God. After the traditional meal has been eaten and the table cleared for dessert, two kernels of dried Indian corn are placed beside each plate. I explain that this represents the first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims came to America and endured such a difficult winter and how grateful they were to God for bringing them through. A little basket is then passed around and as each kernel is dropped into the basket, we describe two blessings for which we are most thankful. The comments invariably focus on loved ones, expressed with deepest feelings and appreciation. By the time the basket returns to where it started, people are usually crying. It happens every year. It's a time of affirmation when we share our need for one another, and thank God for the family He has given us. This experience becomes more meaningful each year because of the inexorable march of time and its effect on the older generations among us. We have been painfully aware in recent years that two special people are now absent from the family circle. Jim's father and my uncle. But we are grateful for each member of our small family who has survived another year.
I am reminded at this moment of a prayer expressed by Jim's father during the final year of his life. We had been to Kansas City for a visit and were on the way to the airport at the end of that pleasant vacation. Jim asked his dad to say a prayer before we were separated. I'll never forget his words, spoken in the car as we approached the airport.
He said, "Lord, we have enjoyed being together so much this past week and you have been good to make this time possible. But Lord, we are realistic enough to know that life moves on, and that circumstances will not always be as we enjoy them today. We understand that a day is coming when the fellowship we now share will be but a memory to those who remain. That's why I want to thank you for bringing love into our lives for this season, and for the happiness we have experienced with one another."
Two weeks later, my father-in-law suffered a massive heart attack from which he never recovered. And his final prayer is his legacy to us, today. Circumstances will inevitably change; nothing in this life is eternal or permanent. But while God grants us breath, we will enjoy one another to the fullest and spread our love as far and wide as possible.
Thanksgiving at the Dobson home is an occasion for the celebration of that philosophy.
I really love the words Mrs. Dobson wrote and I read this every year about this time. My husband and I tend to brace ourselves for pain around the holidays. This year we somehow want it to be different. We are praying to God for his help in this. We have so much to be thankful for this year, like every year! Knowing that things will change and we won't always have what we have right now, we want to make the most of the time. We are so thankful for the tremendous blessings God has bestowed on our family. We will give praise and thanksgiving to Him.
Today at our house we are starting a Thankfulness List. I have a large roll of paper in the dining room and every member of the family is going to write things on it they are thankful for. We will number our list and come back to it many times in the coming days. Every time something pops in our minds we will add it to the list. I'm excited to see what everyone will write and excited to see what number we might get to. There really are so many things to be thankful for!