Thanksgiving is just around the corner once more. What does this holiday mean to you? What really is the heart of Thanksgiving?
My earliest memories of Thanksgiving were from when I had just turned 5 years old. We were living in one of the largest Amish communities, Holmes County, Ohio, at the time. A large family reunion was hosted at my great-uncle’s house. I recall how we all sat at long tables that had been set up in their shed. We were all hungry for the Thanksgiving feast that had been prepared, but first everyone was asked to take a turn sharing something that they were thankful for. As I sat by my mother in my plain Amish dress my little mind was spinning. “What would be a good thing for me to say?”
As always, my dear mother came to the rescue.
“You can tell them that you are thankful for Jeriah,” she suggested.
That was it! I dearly loved my baby brother. (Who is now 21 and at least 8 inches taller than me.) Finally, it was my turn. “Jeriah,” I stated shyly. Chuckles rippled across the tables filled with aunts, uncles, and cousins, causing me to question whether I said the right thing or not. Looking back, I don’t view it as a mistake at all.
As an adult our Thanksgivings are usually spent with family or church friends as we enjoy a day of simply relaxing, visiting, playing games and, of course, enjoying lots of good food.
This year we look forward to hosting my husband Daniel’s parents and siblings from Danville, Ohio on Thanksgiving. We certainly have an added bonus to be thankful for since we moved to our new home with adequate space to host a house full of guests.
We have not finalized our menu but it’ll probably be a traditional Amish Thanksgiving meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, salad, and homemade pie. Daniel’s family has been a motivator for me in the line of healthier eating so we’ll try to be stocked up on plenty of fruits, nuts, and vegetables to snack on throughout the weekend rather than eating a lot of baked goods or candy.
Not only will they be here for Thanksgiving Day but also the day before and after to help Daniel build our new shed. I look forward to watching Daniel along with his father and five brothers tackle the project at hand. Yes, we have lots of be thankful for!
The topic of Thanksgiving and thankfulness is an interesting subject to me. If you’re like me you don’t always feel thankful when things go wrong and everything seems to be turning inside out. But then I wonder where I’d be if life would actually be the way I wish it would be?
If you happen to be going through a deep valley during this Thanksgiving season I simply want to encourage you to keep living a moment at a time. One of my favorite passages in times such as this is Isaiah 61 where it prophesies how Jesus will bind up the brokenhearted, give the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
I would like to wrap up my letter with a quote a friend of mine has in big, bold letters in her house: “What would you have today if you’d only have what you thanked God for yesterday?”
How about making my mother’s standby Thanksgiving dish: cranberry salad. She is known to be one to provide this tasty dish for holiday meals.
1 box strawberry Jell-O
1 box black raspberry Jell-O
3 cups boiling water
5 unpeeled apples
1 cup cranberries
1 orange, peeled
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
1 cup white sugar
Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Then add cold water. Grind apples, cranberries, and orange. Add crushed pineapple and sugar. When Jell-O begins to thicken add fruit and mix well.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write Gloria directly at Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish go to www.amish365.com.