The highly anticipated, autumnal feast of Thanksgiving in our family, has been hosted by me and hubby, along with our four sons, Ryan, Luke, Billy and Josh, for years. Actually, I can’t remember exactly when the ‘mantle’ was passed down to us; perhaps it just might have correlated with my prolific production of little boys and my in laws modest, dining room table that seemed to get smaller with each additional Hamby son.
It’s Easy To Lose Focus
I do love to share a delicious, home cooked meal through family get togethers, with Thanksgiving being the centerpiece of all things tradition. But… if we’re honest, the days and hours leading up to the turkey feast can leave you feeling worn out and a wee bit stressed! There’s grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and for some of us…the nagging worry over the potentially awkward moments and conversations that pop up when you draw all sorts of personalities and ages around the same table. It’s enough to make you lose sight of the real focus of the festivities, while simultaneously gaining a few gray hairs.
How 2011 Changed It All
I get it, I was there and if I’m not careful to remember how different that Thanksgiving meal felt back 2011…I’ll…well, let me rewind a minute. Do you have that fussy family member, you know, the one who has a knack for finding something to gripe about no matter how nice a time everyone else is having, the one who growls a little bit louder than most…the one you secretly love despite their attempts to drive you crazy?
That described my father in law. Bless his heart, I think he got a kick out of pushing my buttons. And push my buttons he did! Yet, I held a soft spot for him, a part of my heart that could see through his fussy facade. So, as cancer crept into his life story, there was no question that we would welcome him into our home to help care for him, as he battled through the last, difficult weeks of his fight against leukemia.
Being thankful for all of the ways we are blessed, especially with the people God has placed in our life; took on a striking new significance during that Thanksgiving meal eight years ago. Gazing at the eerily empty seat he left behind, we experienced up close and very personally, how very short life really is. Just twenty-four hours earlier, my family tearfully experienced ‘Pop-pop’, my father in law, passing peacefully on.
Life happens so quickly, it can change in a moment. There are so many blessings, so many loved ones, we may at times take for granted. Even the grumpy growly sort are put in our lives for a reason. There is always something to be grateful for, something to smile at, something to thank God for. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Our Hope For You
So as our family once again prepares to gather around the table to enjoy a bounty of scrumptious, homegrown food, we will strive to slow down, to pause and focus on the goodness in our lives, to recount memorable moments and funny stories starring Pop-pop and other family members no longer with us. We will take time to laugh together, enjoy the fruits of our labor and give thanks for our blessings. I truly hope you are inspired to do the same!
Gina Hamby is an experienced homesteader and homeschooler, with over 15 years of experience. In addition to her work for Freedom Valley Farm, she also helps give practical advise and encouragement to homeschoolers at her website, ginahamby.com.