Saturday, November 28, 2009

"I thank my God...

...upon every remembrance of you."
~Philippians 1:3

There are some days in this life that make you realize that you couldn't count your blessings even if you tried because there is simply just no number that reaches high enough. In this life of mine, I have had some fantastic Thanksgivings. Most were spent with my immediate family around the table with all of the trimmings, two were spent in Mexico with an odd array of rice and beans mixed in with the usual fixin's, one was spent with only my sisters when the three of us were all in college, but this one was absolutely something special. This was our first Thanksgiving at home as a family... in OUR home as a family... and it will forever hold an incredibly special place in my heart.

The festivities truly began the day before. By then, my mom, Josh's dad, and the Van family had all arrived in town and our home was bursting with activity. People were sleeping on couches and air mattresses, jackets and shoes were everywhere, there was not a quiet spot in the house, and I loved every minute of it. Our home is too large for just the two of us, as we knew when we purchased it, and to hear laughter and noise from every corner filled my heart because that's how a home should be... messy, lived in, but mostly full of love and activity. On Wednesday the girls made just about as much food as they could manage including stuffing and pies and the boys enjoyed the brisk winter air with a few games of football in the backyard. Looking out the kitchen window and seeing them all have such a good time was awesome and somehow made the inside of the house feel warmer. For the past five years I have been in sunny Florida for Thanksgiving, and while the warm weather is a blessing, there is something just a little festive about the cold. Everyone should be able to see their breath on Thanksgiving if you ask me.

That evening, most of us went over to the Crossroads Youth Building and took part in feeding some folks from our community. We had over 50 youth kids, from 6th-12th grade, participate in serving the meal. We served about 170 people and the atmosphere was full of a light, carefree energy that could put a smile on anyone's face. We had invited anyone who wanted to come... whether it was for economic reasons, being away from family, or just to get a good meal, and it was very well worth it. The greatest part was watching the kids come by and ask (repeatedly) if someone wanted more lemonade or another piece of pie, each one of them enjoying the role they got to play. It was the perfect kickoff to Thanksgiving weekend.

Due to some houseguests sleeping in the living room, Thanksgiving morning felt a little more like Christmas. Since most of us got up early, we gathered in the kitchen, drank coffee, and talked to let the others get a little more sleep. By the time everyone was up, almost everyone was hanging out in the kitchen together, which was nice considering that everyone pretty much dispersed for the rest of the day. The little guys were out back playing in the clubhouse, the guys watched football, and the girls finished used most of the morning to finish the cooking. Almost everything was done by noon, so we took over the couches and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade thanks to having a DVR! We all oohed and ahhhed over the floats, the bands, the balloons, and the Broadway show snippets and fast forwarded through all of the commercials. Around 2 o'clock, we brought out the appetizers and a cut-throat game of 4-on-4 boys vs. girls gin commenced... and we won't mention who won.... it's a holiday, and therefore not important. Unless the girls win of course. Shortly after that, the guys all headed outside to fry the turkeys and between setting the table and last minute preparations, it was dinnertime before we knew it.

I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to finally fill up our entire table. By the time we all sat down, there were 10 of us as we were joined by Josh's worship leader and his girlfriend and there was enough room for everyone all at one table. It was awesome. Before saying the blessing, Josh asked that we all go around the table and say what we were thankful for, which is always something that sounded like a neat idea, but I've never actually done it. The answers were all about family, new babies, good marriages, good health, and Kevin told everyone that he was thankful for our troops serving overseas to "protect our nation." By the time Josh's turn rolled around, I was pretty much in tears... oh how blessed we truly are!

For hosting our first Thanksgiving, I have to say that the food was incredible! A major thanks goes out to my mom for pulling most of it together and to Angie for making some of the side dishes. Somewhere along the line, I deemed myself the "pie lady," perhaps as a tribute to my Grammy who passed away a few years ago, and this year the pies were out of this world delicious (thanks to a few friends who passed along recipes!). But in the end, the food was the least important part of the holiday. The day was all about the faces around that table and those that were missing and couldn't be with us, the trials that we had faced this year and how far we had come since, the people in our lives who hadn't been around very long but had already made a huge impact on us, and the love that we shared as we cancelled out all of the distractions in our own busy worlds to stop and enjoy each other's company. This one was special, that's for sure, and I am so very thankful for the enormous amount of joy in my life.

I hope that yours was just as special, no matter what the day entailed. And let us all be thankful everyday for our blessings are too numerous to count.

More photos to come... but this is all I have for now: Down, set, hike!

Two of our turkey fryers... looks like hard work!

Set and ready for food and folks

3 Delicious pies... pumpkin, apple, and pecan. YUM!

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