Have you had your Thanksgiving to remember? The Thanksgiving that served you a life-changing event? A Thanksgiving you grew on? A Thanksgiving forever etched in your memory?
I have. Of the seventy-five Thanksgiving meals I have sat down to, only one is not a blur. I don’t think I could read yet, but I can recite what happened:
What did she care? This grown-up had never paid any attention to me before. Why now? Why did she make a beeline from her backyard to me in mine and ask, “What did you have for Thanksgiving?”
The way she couched the words meant she was a little too anxious for my answer. What was she going to do with it? Whatever it was, somehow it would be against my family.
Five or six years old at the time, I was already well trained in deciphering double meanings. Like other children raised in an alcoholic home, I was hypersensitive to verbal and nonverbal cues. No comment or question was ever innocent, inconsequential, or taken at face value. Lurking behind every nuance had to be an ulterior motive. And it was never good.
Although I was suspicious, my young brain reasoned the nosy neighbor couldn’t possibly know what had been going on in our house. She couldn’t see behind closed doors. She couldn’t have heard Mama’s screams when Daddy beat her, because it was too cold for the windows to be up. And she would have been asleep in her house when his loud voice shook me awake in the middle of the night.
She probably didn’t see those big, scary policemen, either, when they knocked at our front door. Chances were she was not outside then.
Regardless of her motive, of what she had heard or not heard, or of what she had seen or not seen, I had no choice of what I would tell her. My parents had imprinted in me to always, always tell the truth. So that’s what the busybody heard from me.
My father’s drunk had been in the endgame, where there was no money for a drop of alcohol, let alone a Thanksgiving turkey. But I didn’t wish for it as I dipped my spoon in the hot broth and sent it away from me like a ship going out to sea. When it came back, I was glad to see I had captured floating pieces of potato and celery.
With the family gathered at the kitchen table, I feasted on the sobered silence. Daddy was not talking mean, Mama was not crying, and I was not afraid my father would be drunk today. That Thanksgiving I understood thankfulness.
Decades later, as God would have it, I bought a 1941 cookbook at a yard sale. In its pages was a recipe for potato soup, which, it turned out, tasted like my mother’s. Whenever income was scanty, that’s what I made for my family. Every time I remembered that peaceful Thanksgiving Day of my childhood. And its price.
(The above anecdote is Secret 3 from Secrets Revisited.)
For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful.