Thanksgiving Lunch at the Mennonite Church

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Pie

(Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

Thanksgiving Lunch at the Mennonite Church

We’ve been smelling coffee for a while now
as the sermon drones on and on but finally
it’s benediction time and “Thanks
for the food we are about to partake. Amen.”
Old and young crowd down the stairs
to the warm, fragrant basement
claim chairs at the long table
where we usually have Sunday School.

The food committee hovers in the kitchen
as we start filling plates with potato and jello salad
zwieback and butter, sliced tomatoes, cheese
homemade dills, platters of cold pink ham
roast beef, plump fried chicken.
Soon they come with coffee and tea in steaming kettles
then serve plates of pie—apple, cherry, chocolate
lemon meringue, peach, rhubarb, raisin.

Chairs push back. Farmers swap stories
of combine breakdowns and how many
bushels of oats and wheat to the acre.
Women tell of covering the tomatoes
before last Tuesday’s frost, how Suzy’s not liking school
and did you know Adilman’s has a sale on winter coats?
Kids play tag, hide-and-seek
dash between legs back to the table to snitch
sugar cubes, pickles, pieces of cheese
while the food crew clears the end of the table
nearest the kitchen, gathers up
their twelve basketfuls of leftovers
and lingers over their Thanksgiving lunch.

© 2015 –  Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 

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Though in Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada over a month ago, I post this today in honor of the U.S. Thanksgiving celebration. Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. friends!

We did a lot of eating in our small town Saskatchewan Mennonite Church but I remember that the Thanksgiving spreads were particularly sumptuous, and loaded with enough pie to last till Christmas!

When I think about my upbringing, I am full of gratitude for the seeds of faith that were planted in it, and the example of service I saw in the adults around me.

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Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

This post is part of Spiritual Journey Thursday, a series of reflections on my spiritual journey.

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is also linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Carol at Carol’s Corner.

SJT – Home (Missing Home)

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The farmhouse where I grew up - Photo © 2009 by V. Nesdoly
The farmhouse where I grew up – Photo © 2009 by V. Nesdoly

Missing Home

I remember squeaks and slants
in the floor of our last home
can picture the gouge
in paneling beside my desk
the crumbing rubber
on the patio-door seal.
In the shed I see
rust-freckled freezer top
shelf of garden powders and poisons
boxes of canning jars
tangle of camping stuff
all familiar—like loved homes are—
as my own hands and feet.
So the other day
when I couldn’t remember
if there was a slanted ceiling
and a south window
in my childhood bedroom on the farm
I felt as if I had taken off my sock
and found I was missing a toe.

© 2012 by Violet Nesdoly (First published in Picking Flowers – a Fraser Valley Poets Society project.)

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Top to bottom L-R: top two - Destroyed kitchen; 2nd row - We ate a lot of breakfasts and lunch on the balcony; The living room; Row 3 - Living room restored; Kitchen restored.
Top to bottom L-R: Row 1 – Destroyed kitchen; Row 2 – We ate a lot of breakfasts and lunches on the balcony; The gutted living room; Row 3 – Living room restored; Kitchen-dining area restored.

Thankful for Home

As you probably pick up from the poem above, I am a homebody. I love to travel but I love to come home more. I like a social outing but home is where I feel most comfortable, relaxed, and happy.

In the summer of 2014 we came home from holiday to a flooded house. All the main floor flooring of our townhouse had to be redone, along with much of the basement den. Witnessing the change of my cozy living room to a bare shell with a splintery chipboard floor, the devolution of my functional kitchen to cupboards stacked helter skelter in the middle of the room was almost physically painful for me.

And so my heart goes out to the refugees we see on the news, streaming across Europe—homeless because their homes have been bombed, their familiar towns and cities not safe to live in any more. I can only imagine how it must feel to have no home.

We eventually got our home back, better than ever. But since our flood I have stopped taking my home for granted. Often now when I sit in my cozy living room or work in my functional kitchen I marvel at how they were brought back and say, “Thank you, Lord!” And my prayer for refugees everywhere is that may they find homes again too.

This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning. Today the theme is THANKSGIVING FOR HOME.

Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

Join us each week for Spiritual Journey Thursday

 

October prompt: thanksgiving

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It’s October and in Canada the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving (second Monday), that “annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal” – Oxford Dictionary.  (I’m already making a menu in my head!)

Thanksgiving seems like an obvious thing to write about in October because of the holiday and other reasons. For farmers and gardeners fall can be a stressful time. My dad, a grain farmer, always had one eye on the sky, especially as harvest approached. Mom, listening to the weather forecast and paying attention to her arthritis, developed great instincts for when to cover the tomatoes and cucumbers to protect them from frost. What a relief and time for thanksgiving when all was gathered in!

Seasonal issues aside, gratitude (“the quality of being thankful, the readiness to show appreciation and return kindness”Oxford Dictionary) is always a good thing. And it has many angles.

We could ponder who is getting our thanks?

The official thanksgiving celebration began when America’s pioneers paused to thank God for food, protection, health, survival etc.

We could ask, what is thanksgiving?

One leper returns to thank Jesus - by William Brassey Hole

One leper returns to thank Jesus – by William Brassey Hole

One aspect of it  surely is paying attention so that we see the many good things—from the fresh smell of rain to the tinkle of a baby’s giggle— that litter our pathway. It’s also expressing our gratitude. The story of the one leper who returned to thank Jesus after he was healed comes to mind (Luke 17:11-19). So does the story of the widow who made a room in her her house for the traveling prophet. Later when her son died, Elisha willingly came to pray for him (2 Kings 4:8-37).

We can contrast thankfulness with what it isn’t.

A sense of entitlement surely inhibits thankfulness. Henry Ward Beecher expressed it well: “Pride slays thanksgiving. … A proud man is seldom a grateful man for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves” – (quoted by Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts, p. 177).

We can see that it’s possible to look at all of life through gratitude-tinted glasses. Cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving is the point of Ann Voskamp’s popular book One Thousand Gifts. In it she writes: “In memory, the shape of God’s yesterday-heart emerges and assures us of God’s now-heart and reassures of His sure beat tomorrow … it is thanksgiving that shapes a theology of trust”  p. 152.

This month I invite you to write about gratitude / thanksgiving.

  • Perhaps you will write a story of someone who wasn’t thankful.
  • Perhaps your writing will tell of a kindness for which someone (you?) gave thanks in a unique way.
  • Perhaps you will write a poem that lists the many and diverse things for which you are grateful.

Whatever shape your writing takes, I hope the time you spend counting your blessings will be yet another item of thanksgiving to add to your list.