by Jounda LaMance
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The year was 1979 and we lived in California while the rest of our family was on the East Coast. Thanksgiving was going to be unusual, because miles separated us from those we normally spent the holiday with. But I will never forget what mom and dad pulled off!
They always surrounded us with hordes of friends and family during Thanksgiving. Mom being the chief cook and preparing a spread fit for a king, dad always close behind, tasting everything before it was presented to the family! The smell of Thanksgiving penetrated the house days before the event ever arrived.
Now, we lived in a 28í trailer with an oven hardly big enough for a chicken, much less a turkey! We were parked behind a motel in an extension of the business that was filled with travelers on their way to and fro. Most of them were also away from family and I suppose mom and dad gave this much thought!
The owner of the motel/trailer park was a single man who had befriended my family, when mom and dad suggested we have Thanksgiving dinner together, he was all to eager to share this day with us. Yet, I had no idea how it would turn out!
Mom used Louís kitchen to cook the massive bird, and his living room turned into a banquet room. Tables were spread out and it looked like an army would arrive. Somewhere deep inside I thought they had planned a surprise and my uncles and grandparents would come through the door at any moment, but that was hardly the case!
One by one the tenants of the motel and the trailer park began to come through the door! Many were bringing dishes to add to the feast, others simply looked relieved to have somewhere to be. The day played out with great festivity! People who had never met became friends. People that were going to be alone on Thanksgiving now found themselves part of an extended family. I missed my grandparents and uncles, but on that day memories were made that I will never forget!
Mom and dad would do this again and again through the years. Thanksgiving was a time where they made sure anyone that was without family would have a place to sit at our table. There have been a couple occasions where I was alone and without a large circle of people, but the memories of spending Thanksgiving with my parents always warm my heart!
Mom and dad are both gone now, and I miss them greatly! They taught me so many things and for that I am thankful! Thanksgiving was a day-in-and-day-out event! Our table was always full of people who had nowhere to go, or nothing to eat. We met very few strangers and they taught me that extended family is just as important as blood!
Thankfulness was a common theme in our household; regardless of what was going on or how bad it all seemed! We always could find a reason to be thankful! Mom and dad had very little (materially) because they gave of everything they had to those who were in need. They didnít question motives or second-guess those who others steered away from! It was nothing for my parents to come home from town with a homeless person or a hitchhiker; it was nothing for my parents to give their last $5 to a mother with a child!
They taught me that what I have is a gift from God to be given at a momentís notice, if required of the Lord! They taught me that material things are nice, but not to be counted upon. They taught me that a heart of thanksgiving produces a life of joy! That praise and thankfulness go hand in hand, and opening my door to the less fortunate may be the opportunity to make a difference in a life.
They taught me to look past myself when I am feeling alone or lonely and realize that there are others who are just as alone and may have never known the love of a family! They taught me that wherever you are there is an opportunity to embrace someone; there is an opportunity to share what you have and there is an opportunity share Jesus through a meal, a hug, friendship, a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on.
Mom taught me how to cook Thanksgiving dinner, and this year my girls will learn! They have already invited those we know who will be alone, and I expect this year, as my grandparents, brother and his family and sisters and their family are spread across the USA, our table will be filled with extended family!
I have so much to be thankful for! My daughters are healthy, clean from drugs and serving God! They reach out with compassion and love to those who cross their path! I watch them embrace those who are otherwise shunned. They give the little bit of change they have to those who have less. They feed the hungry and put clothes on those who are in need. My heart is full of Thanksgiving!
The journey has been long, and there have been times when I wondered if I would survive under the weight, nevertheless God is merciful and He has seen us through! We have so much to be thankful for and I rejoice in His goodness! Every need that I have, He has never failed to meet! He has been my comfort when my heart has been broken! It has been in His arms that I have found true love! When the enemy intended to destroy me through bitterness and unforgiveness, God has gently led me to a path of sweet surrender!
I am thankful for the many people Iíve met through the years! The friendships established - if just for a moment! I am thankful for those that have given to my family, when we didnít know where our next meal would come from! Most of all I am thankful for Godís love and mercy! Without Him I would be absolutely nothing!
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18
© Jounda LaMance November 21, 2006
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Dear Jounda, This warmed my heart!!! Lots of love, Jacque