Ours is probably the only house in this village that smells like pumpkin pie and turkey today. Like many of you, yesterday was spent cooking, running errands, cooking some more, and translating the word for ‘nutmeg’ into German.
Holidays, especially ones that are country-specific, can be difficult when you live abroad. In a few hours, everyone will pour into Grandma’s house, my aunts bringing their little lap dogs and plenty of great food.
And I won’t be there.
I am thankful for all those years I could be with my family, but I am also thankful for what I have now, at this very moment.
- the God of the Universe, who daily gives me reasons to be thankful
- my husband, who I love dearly
- my kids, who make me laugh and who inspire me
- my food processor, and the fact that I can afford to put food in it
- my friends, who are like family to me
- I have legs that will carry me through a marathon, if the mind is willing
- my aches and pains, because they keep me on the right path
- I can write words on a page that people want to read
- my food allergies, because they force me to eat healthy(ish) whether I like it or not
- I live in Europe, which is quite amazing when I really think about it
This list could go on and on, and I’m sure yours could too.
I could write volumes about my kids, and how absolutely amazing they are. Sometimes I look at them and think, “Where did you come from?” I know I bore them, and raised them, but they seem too good to be true for a person like me, with so many dark chapters in my backstory.
I could also rave about my friends, because I never thought that I, mid-narrative, would make friends who feel like sisters.
But I don’t want you to get the idea that my life boils down to a perfect little list of blessings.
My life does contain its share of difficult times: as much as I’d like to, I can’t simply edit them out of my life, though I can dress them up and make them look presentable.
Every marriage has issues to be worked out, every child needs correction from time to time, every parent needs consistency and patience, which are not easy things to balance. Sometimes we go through inner struggles as God seeks to refine us, and too often, these inner struggles are taken out on those around us. We get frustrated or discouraged or our feelings are hurt–these things are all part of life. And in retrospect, I AM thankful for the hard times, because they make me realize my own frailty, and my utter reliance upon God.
I have a lot to be thankful for–even the things that are not so pleasant to talk about. I’m sure the pilgrims were the same way. Theirs was not an easy journey–working eleven years in Holland to prepare for the trip, getting scammed, their money stolen, thrown in jail, persecuted by the government, having the “good” ship sink, having their friends (who probably felt like family to them) die in front of them, arriving in a frozen wasteland and having more people die, encountering a vastly different culture, and trying to walk with God through it all.
How could they NOT give in to despair during their journey? How could they go on AFTER the Thanksgiving feast was over?
Their journey, filled with toil and horrors that would send us straight to the doctor for antidepressants, forged them into a group of people who could endure in a hard, foreign land. And I am thankful they held on.
Struggles are difficult, and I wouldn’t wish hardship upon anyone, but as you make your list of thankfulness this year, ponder the bad stuff too. If you can’t even look at the hard times without falling apart, then maybe it’s time to turn to God.
He is the only one who can pick up the pieces, no matter where in this world you are.
There is hope, once the feast is over.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
For my family in the States, will someone please give Grandma a hug for me?