Redefining Thankfulness

by | Nov 27, 2014 | Encouragement


A few days before H’s grandmother passed away at the family cottage in Canada, we videotaped her giving my daughter Murielle a lesson on making pie crust. Grandmother was known for baking the most satisfying pies in the land, triangles of warm blueberry or rhubarb covered in melting vanilla.

Unbeknownst to any of us, that afternoon gathered around the family table, dusted with flour and measuring cups, the smells and sounds of summer trailing through open windows, we witnessed Grandmother pass the torch to the next generation in her final hours.

Murielle’s pie crust would surely put a smile on her face if she could taste it.

“Would you like to make pie crust for us for Thanksgiving,” H asks her on the second day home on break from college.

“We packed the pie plates a few months ago, they’re in one of the boxes stacked in the garage,” I remind him.

“We could pick up some of those disposable foil ones,” he rebuts. And we all shake our heads agreeing.

“What about the rolling pin?” Murielle interjects with a little detail we hadn’t considered yet.

“That’s packed too,” I laugh sheepishly.

While we’re scouring the shelves at Wal-Mart, ticking off dishwashing soap and Kleenex from my sticky note list, we park the cart in the toilet paper aisle and call my son; ask for assessments on the contents in the freezer. He discovers two frozen pie crusts we can use for pumpkin and pecan.

The corn syrup Aunt Paula brought with her from Oklahoma last year is still on the shelf in the pantry. And that stuff lasts about 100 years doesn’t it?

This morning, after the alarm clock, during moments of awakening, H asks me if we packed the roasting pan we’ll need for the turkey.

“No, that is still in the closet but we don’t have a platter and the dishes we normally use are packed away in storage,” I tell him. “I even packed some holiday napkins in case we wanted to celebrate in London.”

Rain drops patter on the window sill, branches scrap against metal gutters pushed by a sudden gust. The exhale of wind shimmies through a copse of pine and maple like a host of hands shaking pie tins of rice.

Praying, I tell God, “You know I only have blushing leaves from the neighborhood to use as decoration for Thanksgiving and you won’t stop making them wet.”

Lingering on my pillow canopied in morning stillness, I listen intently for the familiar sound of the Holy Spirit. Mentally flip through old pages of memories hearkening back, two years ago to this same week on the calendar.

Envision the twisted metal of my daughter’s car from an accident with an 18-wheeler. Feel the coldness of the sterile hospital room where they escorted her strapped to a gurney. Hear quiet words of sorrow, “I’m so sorry Mommy.”

Unbeknownst to any of us, this waiting season has revealed what we’ve taken for granted, replacing casual thankfulness with complete surrender to God’s mercy and providence. Because our wholeness matters more to Him than immediate gratification.

We’ll scoop garlic mashed potatoes from the bowl and scold my son for dripping gravy all over the table. We won’t remember that we used everyday white paper napkins, or blue instead of fall dishes. Next week, those freezer burned crusts will be a distant detail we don’t give another thought.

He is teaching us how to make pieces in the pie of life taste sweet, not just for today but for eternity. Reminding us to savor every moment we are given. Rain, pie crust, and life breathing with hope for the future in the bedrooms – for these I am contented.

And I am thankful that your eyes are reading here too.

May your heart exhale contentment as you celebrate around the table. Soak up each blessed minute as He illustrates goodness in each seat that is taken.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!



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  1. Celeste

    Ever since we lived in Florida, I think of thanksgiving in November and the time spent with a close friend. I love your comment on the rain. This week I felt like God was giving me assurances about Africa and our second adoption. Two separate occasions and two conversations with people who were either coming back from or heading to Africa. There is always something to be thankful for. Yesterday, as Bek and I walked to school, I told him that God gives us rainy days. I commented that if we were in an aeroplane we would be above the clouds in brilliant sunshine. He just smiled and said, ” I like the rain mom”. I like puddles.
    Sometimes we need puddles. We might even be happy for them too.
    Very Happy Thanksgiving greetings to you.

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey

    My grandmother baked TWELVE pies every single Thanksgiving. I still marvel at that thought. I don’t replicate Nina’s pumpkin pies, but I love making crust, and because I’ve been ill, I’m asking Sheridan to this year. Simple traditions around food passed down, generation to generation to generation. Sheridan never met Grandma Nina, but I know they would have been great friends who shared gifts of music, pie-baking, and love-basking. I can’t tell you how much I miss her, but her gifts linger on.
    I’m so thankful for YOUR gifts, Shelly, and how you generously share them with us here. Enjoy those children and your time with H. I’m glad you have another Thanksgiving all together.

  3. Jillie

    “Happy Thanksgiving, Shelly, to you and yours.” I’m willing to bet the first pilgrims didn’t have Autumn designs on their bone china, nor matching serviettes either. No proper platter to present their fatted turkey-bird at their plank table. Yet I’m sure their bench seats were full and they rejoiced in all that they had.
    Just as I see you are truly thankful for your family, present at your table, complete with freezer-burned pie crust. And when you write of Murielle and that dreadfully, frightening night two years ago, well, I give humble Thanks along with you that He spared her life and now she is with you this rainy Thanksgiving Day. Have a truly Wonderful Thanksgiving…together! God is good.

  4. pastordt

    Lovely reflection, Shelly. Thank you. And I was just thinking about that terrible accident the other day. TWO YEARS? Doesn’t seem possible. . . but it is. Wow.

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