By Chris Rathbone
The other day while visiting my parents, for some reason we began reflecting on some memories of the past, especially the many Thanksgivings we shared together.
My family was what many would call the “working poor”. While we weren’t necessarily starving to death, we definitely did without the many modern conveniences and luxuries that other folks were fortunate to enjoy. Payday was a big deal in our household because we knew that would be the day Daddy brought home the good stuff! Daddy would walk in with either a big box of Ingles chicken or hamburger meat & all the fixings for a big meal. With 6 children in the house, the good stuff was eaten up by the end of the weekend and it was pinto beans and cornbread the rest of the week!
Daddy had hernia surgery when I was just a young child. Mom was not working at that time so we struggled to pay the bills. We lost the single-wide we were living in and some folks gave us the lumber from a couple of old houses that were being torn down. Daddy built us a house to live in from scrap lumber. We had no electricity so we ran a long cord to my grandmother’s house for power. There was an outlet in the living room and a couple in the kitchen. We had gravity water but no hot water heater. There was a wood cookstove in the kitchen that Mom heated water on for baths. She cooked many a meal on that old woodstove. We had an old wringer washer to keep our clothes clean. Now I know many of you are thinking that’s how you grew up. No big deal, right? You got to remember that some of you are thinking that you are 30 years older than me! Most everyone at that time had been able to move on past all that stuff to enjoy the modern luxuries of that time, but not us. We were living like the previous generation! And even though some may think it was hard for us then, many had it a lot worse than my family!
The holidays brought much excitement and expectation to us kids. It was at these times that we got to enjoy the things that most folks enjoyed year-round. While Christmas was the biggie for us kids, Thanksgiving brought much excitement to my heart. The reason? The big meals!!! Both sides of my family almost always had big gatherings at Thanksgiving. We usually ate two big meals! One side of the family ate around lunchtime and the other ate in the evening at suppertime. For a kid that wasn’t used to eating meals like that throughout the year, the holidays were a big deal for all of us.
The Estatoe Church of God would also put out a big spread the Sunday before Thanksgiving. There was no fellowship hall at that time, so we ate outside if the weather permitted. There were these large metal frames with flat tops that all the food was placed on. It was hard for the kids to reach some of the food so we had to ask for help. The church was right beside the road and often people would just pull over and eat with us! Even if we didn’t know them! Pretty awesome now that I think back on it!
While the food was awesome, especially the blueberry yum yum, now that I’m older, it was really the time spent with the people we love that made those times so special. It was a time we got to see the ones we hadn’t seen in a while. All of us cousins would play for hours outside running and laughing. The adults would sit around talking and laughing together inside the house or on the porch. I can remember always feeling sad when the day was over and everyone was leaving. Sometimes I still feel that way, realizing that we can’t go back to those times and do it again.
The Lord sure has brought my family a long way since those days. We have been blessed above and beyond! However, I’m very thankful now that I’m older for those days because it sure makes me appreciate all we have today.
This Thanksgiving season, let us reflect on how God brought us through the past, how he is providing for the present, and how He promises to take care of us in the future. Let us be Thankful people that recognize we have a faithful God that gives us so much!
Psalms 100:4 “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name.”
Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church.
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