Friends, it’s the eve of so many things magical and meaningful. Thanksgiving is upon us and that means the glorious month of December and all its faithful and domestic preparations can rightly begin in full swing. Advent candles and baking and twinkle lights and reindeer tracking and lots and lots of family time. And lest I forget, the excessive use of ribbon, glitter and Christmas music about to commence at the Ketterhagen residence. Oh, and snowflakes and cut out cookies and footed santa jammies.
Against my family’s better judgment they are letting me host Thanksgiving tomorrow. Which isn’t to say I don’t love hosting, it’s just to say that usually when I have a party to plan the first thing I start thinking about is what kind of centerpieces can I make and what other fun things can I decorate with. About 20 minutes into my Pinterest-like reverie, it dawns on me that the people coming to my house are actually going to want to eat something. I mean especially with it being a holiday mostly centered on well, eating. My husband has courageously taken on the turkey duties and I have lots of help from my mama and my sister-in-law for the rest of the food, so I’m sure it will all go swimmingly. And if the food is mediocre, well the company is my favorite and the ambiance will be top-notch.
A couple of years ago, I was sitting down for breakfast with my friend Sarah and her three girls. As she helped her daughter work her knife through the butter and spread it on her toast, she said, “it’s easy to forget that our children need to be taught about practically everything.” From the most elementary things to the most complicated, sometimes unexplainable ones. Where instinct and osmosis don’t kick in, we the parents get to give it a go. It sort of feels like when you get discharged with your firstborn from the hospital and you and your partner look at each other like, are they really just going to let us walk right out the door with this fragile, perfectly miraculous, little baby?
With each upcoming holiday or life event, I find myself thinking, okay, what is my best explanation of what this is or why we celebrate it or how can we make it meaningful? In contemplating these things more purposefully and more steadfastly, I have the opportunity to not only educate them about our world and our traditions, but I can remind myself why it’s important we celebrate and honor certain things. Jason and I get to frame these new conversations and mold these little brains of mush into respectable little people.
Saturday morning I took the boys to the library. I smuggled in some snacks & sippies and changed Jamison’s diaper in between the rows of books, which I’m pretty sure is not proper library behavior, but I’m giving myself a pass because my husband was out-of-town hunting for the weekend and by 9:00 am when we arrived at the library I had already apologized to the boys for yelling at them and kindly asked for a do-over, if they could kindly work on their listening skills. For the record, Jack, my gracious soul almost always gives me a do-over followed by a hug. Jamison just looks at me like, mom, enough of the mushy stuff, let’s go already.
We found a children’s book about Thanksgiving that talked about the Mayflower and the pilgrims and the Indians. Jack & I read it when we got home. But, the book didn’t breath anything into life for us.
So my thoughts shifted, what do I want to keep in focus this thanksgiving? After just finishing Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts,” the answer that rang over and over in my head was Eucharisteo. It’s a Greek word that means thanksgiving or “he gave thanks.” If you break the word down even further, charis means grace (or gift) and chara means joy. Eucharisteo means thanksgiving, grace and joy. Ann describes it in her book like this, “a triplet of stars, a constellation in the black.” Isn’t thanksgiving about giving thanks? In Ann’s words, “choosing gratitude over grudgery,” “counting blessings from the bridge builder (God),” “choosing to open the hands freely to receive what God gives.” Yes, these are the things I need constant reminders of.
Ann’s book is a revelation. It is beautifully inspired poetry on every page. I gave up highlighting my favorite parts, when entire pages were inked in black and blue. I firmly believe you have to go where God is. And, many people find God in different places, not just in church pews. God is in Ann’s book. One of my favorites from the book:
“While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving… the place where all the joy comes from is far deeper than that of feelings; joy comes from the place of the very presence of God. Joy is God and God is joy and joy doesn’t negate all other emotions – joy transcends all other emotions.”
I read that again last night just before I went to bed and I woke up in the middle of the night to Jamison crying. I don’t know what I was dreaming about, but whatever it was, my mind was still replaying those words over and over in my head, God is joy, joy is God… God is love, love is God.
Happy Thanksgiving Friends, wishing you eucharisteo in all things.