Thanksgiving, Thinking Back
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I usually write about my memories of times that were pleasant and fun. On that special day, and the days leading up to the big meal, we had plenty of food and gangs of relatives to help with decorations, cooking and cleaning. I love to remember those pictures of happy times filled with fun and laughter. I was, and remain thankful for the people who supported me, fed me, and made it possible to survive in an environment that by today’s standards was rough. Over the decades I remembered family, or special family friends with a trusting love that we all felt the same. I also remember the parents, brothers and sisters of my classmates at good old Louisa High School. I remember Sunday school teachers and storekeepers who taught me lessons I still swear by. I remember various ministers and regular school teachers who encouraged me to press on when the going got tough. For these, I am grateful and give thanks.
Sadly, I also remember the ‘regrets’ of the day. Those times when my character failed still haunt me. One thing that makes me grateful was the lack of negative choices available during of those more innocent days. I suppose if internet, drugs, and other vises were there during these formative years, I might have made even bigger mistakes. They weren’t and I didn’t, and for that I am grateful. As I grew older I made a lot of mistakes and often acted with poor judgement. In some cases I hurt others, although that wasn’t what I set out to do. I have plenty to still rejoice over, but those good things are under clouds that will always darken my way. I brought it on myself and even today I have nightmares of things I wish had not happened.
That leads me to what I must be most grateful for. There was a man, who had done no wrong that chose to take my punishment. Even before I was in this world wreaking havoc, he took blows and insults, I deserved including finally dying in a public arena of shame. He took my place when I was the one who had earned punishment and death.
Today, we voice thankfulness for a good harvest, or a successful business. We rejoice that our favorite sports team won. We may be pleased with our family, or our good friends, but no friend ranks higher than the one who volunteered to take our punishment. Winning a lottery can’t be worth that life that was freely given. It is in the promise that we are forgiven that we must celebrate. We can say at the end of life that it is well with my soul. That, my friends, is what I am grateful for.
Looking back, I once saw my family as perfect. It isn’t. We are human and fail every day. In many cases we see rebellion, conflict, and estrangement. We each carry blame, whether we admit it or not. I see no family that is immune from the conflicts that are so common to man. We can ask forgiveness and forgive others, but restoration sometimes does not come easily. Regardless, as a nation we are blessed, as well as a family.
So enjoy the meal, get a Black Friday deal if you must, but please remember that a very ugly slate was wiped clean without cost to us, but at a terrible cost to Him. For this our mere thanks seems understated. Remember the good and the bad, then we must live giving thanks every day.