I stood in my kitchen with a knife in my hand, staring at 10lb. turkey, and even though he wasn’t breathing or gobbling at me, I could feel his black eyes staring at me as if he was saying, “well, get on with it, go ahead and chop my head off!” Who knew that in Bolivia turkeys come pre-packaged with their heads still attached (eyeballs, brains, beaks, and all), and as I would find out after I cooked him, the liver, heart, and kidneys are included for free! That was our first Thanksgiving 9 years ago in Bolivia, and I can now proudly say that I can chop the turkey’s head off without feeling too guilty!
I love Thanksgiving preparations with my children and husband; the baking, singing, and being creative on how to make grandma’s famous pumpkin pie taste just as good without the “key” ingredient, because the shipment of allspice that they grocery store promised would be here, didn’t make it this year! I know it will come, maybe in January or even June, but not in time for Thanksgiving!
Holidays as a missionary wife can be difficult at first. Maybe the turkeys come with their heads still attached, maybe the one turkey you found has been frozen for 4 years, or maybe turkeys are the sacred bird in your country and you have to settle for a nice plump chicken or even water buffalo! Isn’t it so hard to change traditions and make these special times with our families, when, well things aren’t “just” the way we want them to be? I will be totally honest, I cried our first 2 Thanksgivings on the mission field. I cried because I wanted to smell the turkey and stuffing at my parents house. I cried because I wanted to wake up and see the parades on channel 2. I cried because nothing was what I was used to and I wanted those same special memories for my children. A dear friend of mine reminded me of what Thanksgiving is truly about; she admonished me to “give thanks in everything”. She also reminded me that Psalms 63:3, says, “Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.” Do we live our lives thinking on these words? Am I thankful and do I praise the Lord because His love is better than life? Do I give thanks in everything because that’s the Lord’s will for my life?
This month I’ve been trying to come up with some ways that can help my family and I be thankful and to “give thanks in everything.” Here are just a few ways….
- A Thankful Family Tree: A dear friend of mine in Bolivia introduced me to this idea. She painted a tree on a wall in their house and left a marker nearby for her family to write things they are thankful for around the tree. Things weren’t always written neatly or even spelled correctly, but I loved reading the words. Things like “my best friend coming over, new books to read, a date night with my husband”, etc… could always be found. Every time I walk into her house I am reminded to count my blessings!
- Family Thanksgiving Journal: keep a journal out year round and allow family and guest to write things down that they are thankful for. On Thanksgiving Day get the journal out and read it. What a wonderful way to see how the Lord has blessed our family during the year.
- Thankful Box: Leave a box out where family can put things they are thankful for inside. When you are having a bad day or just need a pick me up take the notes out and read them, to remind yourself and other that the Lord is good to us!
As you wake up tomorrow and smell turkey or perhaps water buffalo, I encourage you to be thankful for all the Lord has done for you, because His loving kindness is better than life itself.
From our family to yours
Happy Thanksgiving, Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias,