Thanksgiving, according to Evangeline:

The Mayflower is a ship, like a pirate ship but NOT a pirate ship, and the Indians came over on it and created America. Now we eat turkey and hey, guess what? I know a SONG about turkeys, it goes like this: (insert lots of gobbling and incomprehensible words). When can I visit Santa?

Last night during her nightly prayer, she thanked God for Santa.

We have some work to do.

Sam and I have always held space for Thanksgiving week, in our home. It is one of the weeks we most look forward to, because it isn’t about giving or receiving presents or honoring one individual – it is about family, and nourishment, and being present together in our thankfulness for all that we have been given. We don’t rush out at 6 a.m. the following day or midnight or God forbid the day of Thanksgiving to start shopping for Christmas presents, as though Thanksgiving is a holiday to be skipped over entirely. We are so adamant about this that even Evangeline parrots us – “we do NOT shop on Thanksgiving Day!”

I’ve never understood this rush toward Christmas, which seems to happen earlier and earlier each year, as though Thanksgiving is about one meal sandwiched between the carnival that is Halloween and the gift-giving extravaganza that is Christmas.

So we’ve been working with Evangeline on the concept of being thankful. When we say our prayers each night she thanks God for certain things – she is generally quite thankful for her “warm, cozy bed” and her pajamas and her family and baby brother – these are all unprompted. She is also regularly thankful for magic and flowers – especially roses – and for pretty clothes and her toys. With the last two, I tried to guide her to reconsidering. “I don’t think clothes and toys are something we necessarily thank God for,” I said.

“Please momma. Please, please. Lots of kids don’t have toys and clothes and I want to say thank you,” she pleaded. She caught me off guard because of course, she is right. When I was growing up my mom regularly listened to my prayers and often told me what was and was not okay to pray for to such an extent that my dad finally had to intervene at one point.

“You’re going to wear the Christ right out of her, Mary,” he said. “Let the kid pray for what she wants to pray for!”

Evangeline has actually taken to prayer with a zealotry I never anticipated. No place is off limits to take a moment to pray, whether we are in a coffee shop or watching a television program or playing dress up. It’s a bit like being in a musical except we break into prayer instead of song. Growing up in a conservative Presbyterian church where it was generally assumed prayer was saved for bedtime and church, I have to admit this has shaken my ideas of public verses private behavior, but my desire to foster her faith so far overrides my awkwardness when we end up “saying a little prayer” in Starbucks.

This Thanksgiving week will be an especially wonderful one for us, because Duncan will be baptised on Sunday. I’ve been looking forward to this period of time for weeks now, from the slow trickle of family arriving to Thanksgiving Day itself to the small party we are throwing Saturday night to the covenant of Duncan’s baptism, so when I felt myself coming down with a cold on Sunday morning, my brain started in on its usual cycle of doom. What if I’m too sick to host properly? What if I don’t feel perfectly perfect all week? What if I can’t HAVE THINGS GO EXACTLY THE WAY I WANT THEM TOO???

I’m still sick. The sinuses on the left side of my face feel like they’ve been hallowed out with an ice cream scooper, and I’m pretty cranky about it. I need to rewrite my own narrative, put things in perspective.

I am thankful…that both sets of grandparents are able to travel to see us this year. All four of them are in their early seventies and I imagine we only have so many years left before the eight hour drive is too much for them, so I am thankful for this. Instead of feeling stressed out from hosting while not feeling well, I will let them help – they always want to help – and make sure they hang with the kids as much as possible. I am thankful I just have a cold, and not something debilitating or chronic. I am just generally thankful for my overall good health. And I am thankful for the opportunity of Duncan’s baptism – for God’s grace and unconditional love. This coming Sunday isn’t nearly as much about me as I’ve been making it – it is about Duncan and his relationship with Jesus – completely, one hundred percent not about me.

And, taking a cue from my daughter, I have to admit, I am thankful for magic, and for flowers. And, let’s be honest – I am thankful for pretty clothes, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

6 thoughts on “thankful

  1. Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition, and especially so the practice of gratitude. Friends of mine have picked up Thanksgiving even though none of us are American, and we celebrate every year around this time. The main focus is being together and saying what we are grateful for. I love it.

  2. I love Thanksgiving, too, for the same reasons you do. And I hate this rush to Christmas, especially since Advent is supposed to be a season of waiting and anticipation, a time when we should get away from instant gratification. Happy Thanksgiving (and baptism) to you!

  3. I used to thank God for Santa, too. It drove my mother crazy. My dear, practical, loving father said, “Give it a rest. At least she isn’t praying to Santa.” Now that I think of it, there are more than a few who do pray to Santa, at least metaphorically. Ah, well.

    I hope you’re feeling better by now. I’ve been out of pocket for a time, so I’ll offer belated Thanksgiving Day wishes, and a hope for a peaceful Christmas season.

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