A Thanksgiving Story

Thanksgiving seems like an odd holiday to me. After all shouldn’t we be thankful every day? Why give this virtue a special holiday? We don’t set aside a holiday for patience, joy, peace, kindness or hope. (We might consider Valentine’s Day as the special “love” day, but that is a blog unto itself). Still a thanksgiving story seems appropriate.

In the 1930s, George Strester remembers his father who tried farming in Nebraska in 1873. Thanksgiving was approaching and the family had a tough harvest due to the dry and dusty summer. They wanted to give thanks, but the pantry was nearly bare, so George’s father decided to butcher the cow. It had become nice and fat from eating a variety of vegetables, including some rotten onions, but had gone dry and was not giving any milk.

The children all shed a few tears when Old Broach the cow was killed, for she was a family pet, but the family needed to have something to eat. The cow was butchered the day before Thanksgiving and the next day George’s mother planned a real Thanksgiving feast. — a large roast of meat with potatoes and carrots lay around it. Something the family had not had for years.

However a peculiar odor filled the house as the meal was cooking. Mother said it might have been something on the stove, which now was causing the terrible odor. The table was set and the roast was brought out and how delicious it looked. George’s father first gave a prayer of deep thanks for the many blessing that the family had enjoyed and then he carved the roast, placing a liberal helping of meat, carrots and spuds on each plate. George’s mother took a bite and looked at her husband; he took a taste and looked at the kids.

George took a mouthful and his stomach heaved, – horror of horrors, the taste of rotten onions had permeated every piece of beef. Their cow had not simply fattened up on vegetables, but on rotten onions. Their entire dinner was spoiled and all they had to eat were johnnycakes with nothing to put on them.

Still George observed that though his father was greatly tempted, he did not say any cuss words, but decided on that day, to quit farming and reaffirm his vocation as a Methodist minister.

The Strester family took a moment that could be called a family disaster and turned it into a memory of laughter and joy. It was also turning point in their lives. Their father rediscovered his calling and the family was able to adapt to the changes.

God takes our crisis points, small or large, and turns them into his moments of joy and thanksgiving.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your gifts of grace, love and joy.  Create within me a thankful everyday.

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