The brownness of November is enveloping our hills, with brown fields and meadows, and brown leaves scattered on the forest floor. The air is a little nippier, and mornings bring a coat of white frost and ice frozen in puddles. I remember how the fields of broomsage always shone golden as the autumn wind waved the stalks back and forth. If you haven't romped through a field of dry broomsage, you have missed something.
It didn't matter how cold it was, we played outside. "Hide and Seek," "Cowboys and Indians" and "Old Witch" played on the Virginia office porch filled our days. When it got really cold, we would head for the old log barn, which was filled with fragrant hay. There we formed our secret clubs and performed plays -- we had a lot of imagination. We pretended we were the "KatzundJammer Kids" a comic strip popular when we were young. Sometimes we were "Hans and Fritz" and sometimes we were "the Captain."
"Tarzan and the Apes" was a warm-weather game when we could roam the woods. This game was carried on by our own children, Mike, Peggy and friend, Terri. Patty was the youngest, and always complained the Mike and Terri got to be Tarzan and Jane, while she was an ape and carried a suitcase through the woods. Country children had such good times, and we didn't require any equipment except our own imaginations. Those were the good old days!
Thanksgiving comes closer, and our minds always go back to the days of childhood. I think the magic of Thanksgiving is the warm memories that we have of days gone by. We all have a special memory of a certain Thanksgiving that stands out above the rest. The Thanksgiving we spent when we lived on the old Jackson County farm is mine.
It was a warm and sunny Indian summer day, with smoky shadows lurking in the hollows of the hills. I can feel myself transported back through the years. A balmy breeze lifted the colored leaves from the ground and skittered them skyward on the red clay road to the old barn. Mary Ellen and I lifted Mike up between us and ran with him down the road. It was a day to make the heart rejoice.
Daddy is gone now, and so are two of my brothers. The old farm house has fallen down, and is covered with briers and underbrush, yet that golden Thanksgiving Day lingers on in the memory, as bright and beautiful as it was long ago. What makes it so special is the fact our family was entire -- Mom and Daddy and all seven of us children. How blessed we were!
Home for Thanksgiving! Home is a magic word, and the thoughts of coming back home touch a chord deep in all of our hearts. No matter how humble the dwelling house, or how scrubby the hillside farm, memories of home burn bright. Longing for home is one of the most deeply ingrained instincts we possess. The old farm may be sold, the home torn down or burned, yet there is still that desire to go back home again.
I used to visit our local nursing home frequently, and some of the residents would invariably beg me to take them home. "It's not far from here," they would tell me. Mom's doctor once told me that what they really want is to go back in time when they were able-bodied and healthy. The mind may be cloudy, and reasoning powers gone, still the heart longs for home.
Mom didn't want to come back to her house, or my house, but she wanted to go back to Big Laurel Creek where she grew up as a child. She told me once that she thought Heaven would be like going back home again -- back with her Mommy and Daddy and all her brothers and sisters. Thank the Lord, she is back home again.
I am glad that our nation has set aside a specific day of giving thanks (although we should thank the Lord every day for our blessings) so that our families can gather together and strengthen the bonds of love and cherishing. We need to take advantage of every opportunity we have to gather as a family. All too soon, these days fade into the past, and are gone.
Yes, I love Thanksgiving. At no other time is so much love and togetherness extended. I look forward to preparing a big family meal and having all the members who can make it crowd around the growing table. It is a blend of Thanksgivings past, memories of long ago, people and times, and weaving present-day pleasures into the fabric of one's life.
It is a time to pause and reflect on the genuine blessings, which God has given us -- our families round about us and the love that binds us together. The blessings of God are given daily, so it is not just on Thanksgiving that we should show our gratitude, but every day. The greatest blessing of all is the blessing of salvation. May the Lord help us to be truly thankful for this gift.
Psalms 100 is a familiar scripture, yet it will never be outdated.
Verse 1: Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
2: Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.
3: Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.