The Most Wonderful Holiday of the Year

We are counting down the days until Thanksgiving – my favorite holiday. Everyone is coming to our house again this year so I’ll be busy cooking, baking, planning, and I am going to LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT. I wish Thanksgiving came every month!

I hope your days are full and warm. I hope your yeast rolls rise (mine, too!) and the appetites you manage are satiated and then some! I also hope you find some great bargains on Friday morning while some of the world sleeps. I will, again, be venturing out before it is day to snag a place in line on Black Friday. Let the games begin!!

We love you and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Blessings,
Janet

P.S. Below is a picture of my fabulous birthday celebration: food and fun with the people you love. It doesn’t get better than that. They even let me win a game!

THE HIGHEST FORM OF THOUGHT by Janet Paschal
It has become a family tradition. Following our Thanksgiving meal, we begin at the head of the table and each person shares the things for which they are most grateful. We recount blessings both familiar and new. Moving clockwise, we nudge both ends of the spectrum, laughing and crying in turn.

During that time around the table, the hearts of everyone in the room are on the same page. We understand what it means to be filled with gratitude. We grasp that we are blessed beyond measure simply because there are no empty chairs.

G.K. Chesterton maintained that gratitude was the highest form of thought. A friend of mine says it is the only virtue that God expects. It is when our hearts are grateful, she says, that blessings are passed from one generation to the next. Gratitude can be a choice we make or a response to our circumstances. Ironically, the desires of our heart can draw us toward gratitude, whether those desires are fulfilled or denied.

Sometimes it is loss that makes us grateful. Who can fully appreciate a healthy back until it wields pain at every bend or movement? Can you truly be grateful for a child with good reflexes and a responsive mind if you have never seen that tiny form being prepped for scans and vitals? Who can honestly grasp what a privilege it is to dial a well-worn number and hear a parent’s familiar response until the phone goes unanswered and the voice silent? It is only when we digest our loss, kneeling by a freshly dug grave, barely able to breathe or function, that we grasp how much we possess.

My husband lived in Denver during the reign of the Broncos and their hero, John Elway. Since boyhood, Elway had dreamed of playing football and winning a Superbowl. He spent his entire life working toward that Sunday in 1998 when the Broncos beat Green Bay for their first Superbowl championship. Some time later Elway would tell an interviewer, – I have lived my whole life since I was five years old dreaming of that day. There I was, on the field, holding the hardware, smiling at the camera, doing the obligatory, I’ll see you in Disney, and I didn’t even get off the field before it began to feel hollow. The next two months were the darkest of my life. I was more depressed than I had ever been because I had gotten to the top and it returned nothing. Since I was the quarterback they let me take it home and for the next two months, I sat in my living room looking at it. I tried to look at it from every angle. I walked the floor at night looking at it and, still, it could not satisfy – .(paraphrased)

Sometimes it is a dream realized that makes us grateful for the ordinary. Sometimes we are grateful that we could not reach the things we could not hold. Sometimes we discover that the journey to the top was better than being there.

When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, she and her husband returned home to ponder the treatment options and recommendations. She recalls walking into their home, looking in the mirror, and thinking that she looked the same. She had no protrusions, no visible signs of illness. She did not feel sick. She had no pain, nothing that would indicate that she needed treatment of any description. After her first chemotherapy session, she still felt no side effects. It was on day three that she began to understand the severity of her treatment. As the treatments progressed and her body responded to the wrenching battery of drugs, she faced the escalating side effects. In a poignant statement, she said that it was only after realizing the severity of the treatment that she realized the severity of the disease. After she grasped the severity of the disease, she (and we) could better understand what a blessing it was to sit at the Thanksgiving table with good reports.

Life teaches us to be grateful. It strips through the superfluous and fine tunes our focus. For the believer, it eventually demonstrates that all things work together for the good of those who love God. For that we are particularly grateful.

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