I love Thanksgiving. Such a simple holiday, so unassuming and amazingly free of the mercantile trappings of other celebrations. As much as I yearn towards the Christmas season each year, I am always sad that a day set aside for no other reason than to say ‘Thank You’ to God is often overshadowed, if not shoved impatiently aside by a culture obsessed with getting and spending.
I love the day before Thanksgiving, too; there is something about the preparation and bustle that is dear to my womanly soul. I love the scents in the air and the cheerful upheaval in the kitchen and the comfortable familiarity of Mama’s Autumn Leaf dishes.
I often muse on the fact that God has given us the ability to anticipate as well as enjoy; this is blessing upon blessing to me. It more than doubles our joy—it heightens and intensifies it, and makes each holiday’s sweetness part and parcel of all those that are someday coming.
Every year on Thanksgiving Eve I make a big fragrant pot of cranberry conserve from a recipe that is well over a hundred years old. The tangy aroma as it simmers away is positively heady with memory and meaning for me; I often lift the lid just to breathe in my own personal little essence of Thanksgiving. And the glowing garnet-colored jars late in the afternoon are in themselves small mementoes of both days gone by and yet to come.
Two years ago my precious friend Katie spent this day of anticipation with me in my kitchen. She arrived early in the morning armed with casserole dishes and sweet potatoes and as we peeled oranges and chopped nuts we talked—over matters great and small, but mostly great, as hard and fast as we could. It was all delight, the fire on the hearth, the ready pot of tea, the fragrances rising signifying good food for our loved ones, and the stimulation of a kindred spirit to share it all with.
I will always remember our conversation from that day: the ‘hidden art’ of homemaking, as Edith Schaeffer so aptly put it; the joy of discovering new passions and creative outlets in our already full lives; the books we love. Some of what we discussed was the misunderstandings we regularly face about our chosen profession as homemakers. At one point I interrupted to direct her towards the quote I have hanging over my kitchen sink, copied carefully onto a porcelain plaque by another friend as a Christmas gift:
“…It was homemaking that mattered. Every home was a brick in the great wall of decent living that men erected over and over again as a bulwark against the perpetual flooding in of evil. But women made the bricks, and the durableness of each civilization depended on their quality, and it was no good weakening oneself for the brick-making by worrying too much about the flood…”
from ‘Pilgrim’s Inn’ by Elizabeth Goudge
We both wept at the inspiration of those words, and at the freedom God has given us to follow those ‘dreams dearest to our hearts’. We have much to be grateful for.
A Happy Thanksgiving to all of you dear readers…