It is Thanksgiving week in the United States and nothing screams tradition to me more than the Thanksgiving holiday. We have traditions in our family and I bet you have them in yours. Where did they come from? Are they worth passing on? Those are the questions I have been asking myself at the beginning of this holiday season.
“It’s that time again!” Having something to look forward to that is just around the corner is a wonderful part of our human experience. I will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my side of the family and I am really looking forward to it. We eat a very traditional meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie and the like. We are a family that is ok with trying new things too and many of the recipes we have explored in recent years have now become part of the tradition. Our favorite being a brussels sprout casserole and a cranberry salad. I might add that only my sister in law, Tanja, is allowed to make them. She just has the magic touch. * see sherricrandall.com for recipes*
Food and the holidays can trigger nostalgia and anticipation. I realize for many it can also trigger unpleasant memories and can be a difficult time of the year. The great thing about traditions is you get to decide what you want to move forward with. I am challenging myself to think about why I have continued with something and have I made it worthwhile for my kids to continue one day when they have their own families. Good things to ponder.
Traditions help us with a healthier and happier outlook on life. They bond us with our family and friends. I believe we have an innate drive to build them which in turn helps with our finding fulfillment and belonging. It is the anticipation and the joy.
Traditions may change and evolve over the years and some just need to stay the same. I hope I got you thinking about yours. From my home to yours – I wish you a season to be thankful for!
I would love to hear about your favorite Thanksgiving traditions.
It is a Monday morning, not even 10 am, and I am finding myself in need of a pep talk.
I woke up early today to go for a walk before work. Ear buds in place and music turned up I began my walk on the trail. Preoccupied with my thoughts of my youngest son starting his senior year of college and my daughter starting her senior year of high school. My heart burdened by the senseless shootings that took place this past weekend in my country. I began to pray and walk. I thought I heard a voice and as the cyclist was approaching my side, I quickly moved over to accommodate him. Much to my surprise, he hopped off his bike and began screaming at me to MOVE OVER. He berated me and cussed at me before jumping back on his bike an pedaled away as he was nodding his head in disgust that I would be walking closer to his side of the trail than mine.
I then decide on my way to work to stop at the grocery store and pick up some items for my lunch. There is road construction so I inadvertently turn and drive against the arrow pointing us to park. My mistake as well as the car in front of me and the three others behind me. We all encounter the wrath of a very frustrated driver who honks her horn, rolls down her window and proceeds to scream at all of us for being idiots.
I decide a large coffee is in order at this point and stand in line to order when the young mom in front of me who is juggling 2 little kids spills her iced coffee macchiato all over my sandals and feet. I then have a choice don’t I? I chose to laugh and to tell her it was no big deal as we both worked together to clean up the mess. This prompted the man behind us to pay for both of our drinks and thank me for not treating her like I was treated in the parking lot. He was part of the wrong way driving escapade too. We all had a good laugh and wished each other a great day.
Choices… Sometimes we are aggravated by what others do and sometimes we are the one who is aggravating. Today I am determined to choose grace and gratitude. All the minor issues I described for you are nothing compared to others in the world who would love the freedom to walk without fear in their neighborhoods, to have a working automobile and to have the funds to purchase coffee. I spend my days working for a global ministry so I am well aware of the fact that these are minor in the macro of our world. Even with that lens I found myself sad and a bit annoyed.
My encouragement to you and to me today is this – choose the joy and choose the grace. It is always worth it even when it is hard and who knows, maybe sometimes you might even be treated to a cup of coffee.
I love to feel sunshine on my face and living in Colorado I get to experience that a lot as we like to boast that we have 300 days of sunshine a year. Blue skies create a sunny disposition so they say. As our summer days feel longer and the sun shines until late in the night, I settle into my summer rhythm of walks after work, watering the garden, watching baseball and talks with my husband sitting on the back porch staring at the magnificent sunsets chatting about life and many nights eating a popsicle. There is something about summertime that brings out my ten year old self. The rhythm of life seems to change with the arrival of fresh cut grass and ice cold lemonade.
A few summer ago, I participated in a Bible study that focused on the Psalms. Right away Psalm 1: 3 caught my attention –
“ That person is like a tree, planted by streams of water, which yields it fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” NIV
That particular summer arrived after an intense time of ministry and quite frankly a time where I felt unlike the tree above, my leaves were withered. I was worn out, my joy was gone. This passage caught my attention because it promises that this tree gives its fruit in season, while its leaves do not wither. My expectations of myself, and the expectations I often see those around me putting on themselves, are that we are to be productive and fruitful all the time. Our rhythm to include rest has disappeared.
No wonder we feel tired.
We were created for rhythms. All of God’s created world was created with rhythms. God created night and day. God created and then God rested. The leaves fall in autumn and return with buds of promise in the spring – rhythm.
Modern life gives few reminders, but we humans used to go to sleep and get up with the sun. Life followed the rhythms of the agricultural seasons. There was a time to plant and a time to harvest. With the arrival of the summer fruits in the produce aisle and farmers market, I am reminded that fruit grows in seasons, not constantly or instantaneously.
Life today can be a constant barrage of noise and information that is accessible at our fingertips. We can be plugged in all the time, and we are expected to be fruitful year-round. The arrival of summer reminds me we can change that rhythm.
My challenge to myself and to you is to find our rhythm of summer. Find ways to slow down. Extra time with our families, extra time outside and maybe a little extra ice cream too. Rhythm is a simple concept, let’s find ours and let’s not over complicate it…
I sat in the parking lot of the post office on a cold winter morning. I could see the long line from where I sat in my car and I was feeling grumpy about the anticipated wait. I had a heavy heart. Grey skies loomed overhead replacing the normal bright blue skies of Colorado. The whole day felt grey and heavy.
I was awakened that morning to alarming texts from friends who were sending out prayer requests for one of our friends who is battling cancer. The outlook felt grim. Then I received an email from another friend telling me of a friend’s child who was complaining of a stomach ache which turned into surgery which turned into another cancer diagnosis. These are wonderful families and I just felt plain sad on their behalf.
I walked to the front door of the post office and while opening the door dropped several of my envelopes. A young man stepped over the fallen mail without offering to help. My grumpy meter was rising by the second – that was until I got inline.
In front of me was an elderly man and in front of him was a young mom with her little baby. The elderly gentleman began playing peek a boo with the child and before you know it, the baby was laughing hysterically. You know what I mean, those baby laughs that are so full of joy they make everyone around them begin to smile and laugh too. We all were laughing until our sides hurt. We even clapped for the baby when she and her mom were leaving, and of course, on cue, she blows us all baby kisses goodbye. My spirits were lifted by the laughter of this sweet child and the response from all those around me.
The lady behind me started crying. She apologized for the tears and told me her husband had passed away earlier this year and she felt guilty for feeling joy and uncontrollable laughter. I gave her a hug and told her I was so sorry for her loss. I also probably over spoke and told her I thought it was ok to have joy. Her husband wouldn’t want her to be sad forever. She hugged me again. I left the post office feeling lighter and as I walked outside, the sun began shining through the clouds. I stopped and prayed for my friends who were deep in hardship. I prayed they would feel joy, that they would be able to laugh even when things were hard.
I think sometimes we are afraid to laugh while we are experiencing sorrow because someone might think our pain has passed or that our sorrow isn’t deep. Laughter seems off limits or inappropriate to shine where there is the darkness of grief and sorrow. My Christian faith tells me that because I place my hope in Christ, I can grieve differently from those who have no hope. There are times when grief will have a tight grip on us for sure, life can be brutally hard at times. Laughter gives us permission to say – grief may have a hold of me but all of the life has not been choked out of me. I think laughter lessens the sting that sadness can bring. It is a gift to feel joy.
Let’s all be people who give each other permission to laugh, to experience joy even when our world circumstances say otherwise. Let’s receive our joy from the Lord and encourage one another in this journey called life.
God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Why is contentment so hard to achieve? A great question brought to my mind this morning as I was walking through my garden enjoying the beautiful roses that are still blooming. It is mid September here in Colorado and each year about this time, I get a second blooming season from my rose garden. Heavenly.
The temperature for the next week will be in the upper 80’s yet when I walk into the area stores it is all about the fall decor, pumpkin spice galore! I even heard a lady this morning say to the grocery store clerk, “ I wish this nice weather would hurry up and get out of here so I can put on a sweater and drink a pumpkin spice latte.” She wasn’t teasing. In Colorado the fall season is typically shortened by a snow storm so I plan on enjoying the sunshine and roses until then. Not wanting to wish away the last days of summer.
Why do we wish things away? When we are young we want to hurry up and be adults and then when we are adults we wish we could have some carefree days like when we were young. When our kids are toddlers we wish they would be potty trained and not so needy and then when we drop those kids off at college we long for the days when we could ready stories to them and snuggle on the couch.
My outlook on contentment certainly has been skewed by my experience of having breast cancer. It really gave me the gift of enjoying each day, each season of life – not only in nature but with my family and my work. Seasons are just that, temporary moments in time. Sometimes sunny and bright and other times dark and cold. Whatever season you find yourself in, my prayer for you today is that you will enjoy it, learn from it, embrace it , don’t wish it away.
Pumpkin spice lattes will be enjoyed soon enough, today is an iced tea, rose filled kind of day. I plan on enjoying it.