S: Thanksgiving Memories
BC: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." - I Cor. 13:4-8a
FC: Thanksgiving Memories
2: Ever since I can remember, Thanksgiving was a big deal. Thanksgiving for our family has always been more than dressing, angel biscuits, sweet potato casserole, and turkey (the bird and the cookies). Thanksgiving for our family is a reunion. Thanksgiving means that you get to see family that may live hundreds of miles away, and even though you may only get to see those family members once or twice a year, they seem closer to you than your neighbor next door. As we get together to share that common meal, usually about thirty minutes late, we share friendship. But the most important part of Thanksgiving is the spiritual fellowship that we share with so many. Every year at Thanksgiving our spiritual family is also our literal family. It is always such a blessing to see the new little ones at Thanksgiving every year, but we also rejoice with the new Christians in the group. It is far more than any common meal. I think that it took Lance a couple of years to truly realize what Thanksgiving was. As someone looking in from the outside, it was just a big family get together. That is how most people see it. They don't understand the scope of Thanksgiving for us. Someone recently asked me if we had everyone over at one house. I explained to them that we had to rent the community center. They asked, "How many of you are there?" All I could do was smile. It is true that we used to meet in one house. Aunt Wilma's house was bursting at the seams. I remember even having to set up tables outside because there were too many of us. That was perfect for cleaning up. And, as kids, we didn't have far to run to play at our favorite spot: the shed behind Buddy's house. It wasn't long before we had to move to a larger location. The Oak Grove Community Center was perfect. There were so many memories there already for the older family members. Now it was time for the younger family members to build lasting memories. The bathroom was always horrible, but the community center was perfectly placed across the street from the park. Our parents would faithfully help us cross the street and watch us play on the various equipment while holding our turkey cookies that we would come back to and nibble on throughout the day. One of the last times we met at the community center it was so cold. The only thing to do was light the heater. I don't think I will ever forget that ball of fire and the expressions on everyone's faces. Soon after that, we started renting the Ruritan building. This building had heating and air. It had a kitchen and room for the kids to play, but most importantly, it had more than one bathroom. And you knew that the toilet would flush. So in my time, I have seen Thanksgiving change location three times. I have priceless memories from all three venues. We usually start the Thanksgiving festivities around noon. I say "around noon" because there are usually some latecomers. Everyone blamed Daddy for making the Millers late. Mom always said that if everyone wanted hot angel biscuits then they could just wait. They have to rise, you know. I think Lance and I were the late ones last year. We were trying to visit with his family in the morning, and ended up being a few minutes late I heard plenty about how the apple didn't fall far from the tree. I think I was forgiven when I brought out food. Lunch lasts for a while as we talk about everything that has happened over the past year. We laugh at inside jokes and pick at each other and go back for seconds and sometimes thirds. Grandma and Aunt Wilma sneak a little piece of cake or pie. Some of the family still play volleyball or some sport outside, somehow keeping their lunch down.
3: The kids still play on the playground, and the new mothers give their babies a first taste of their Thanksgiving heritage. Unfortunately, that doesn't always mean they will sleep well that night. Someone usually produces sales papers, and a Black Friday plan is born as the pros and cons of various deals are weighed. A nap is often demanded before we come back in the evening for leftovers and bingo. Sometime around five or six we all start filtering back for "dinner". We raid the refrigerator and fix our own hodgepodge meal of leftover goodness. Some of the guys brag about the deer they bagged that afternoon or morning, and some of them even bring one for show and tell. Pretty soon, box after box of gift bags and wrapped presents are lined up in categories around the room. Bingo is about to begin. Pennies and game cards are passed around, and our Bingo Caller begins calling out those elusive letters and numbers that will determine our fate. Aunt Wilma watches the proceedings and tries to remember everything that she has wrapped up over the past year. Sometimes she directs a family member to a specific present, but most of the time, they choose their own gift from their category. I am not a young woman anymore, I noticed, but have to choose mine for the "Ladies" group. Somehow John always seems to win his turn pretty quickly. I still think there is some cheating going on during that game. We all watch as the most recent Bingo-er unwraps their present. Even Aunt Wilma has to watch half the time to remember what is underneath the wrapping. Everyone wins at the Bingo game, but you can't keep the gift bag. We used to play card games like Pit after dinner. As the grandchildren group got older, many of us drove down to Pensacola to watch a movie together. It wasn't long, though, before those grandchildren started having children, and that tradition stopped. The Gibson clan still gets together on Wednesday or Thursday to exchange their holiday gifts. I usually see several of them sporting their new something during the day. As the years have passed, Thanksgiving has changed. Some family members have moved away. others have moved back. The exact location of our traditions has changed. Some traditions have been added, and some lost. Some family members hare now married and must balance our Thanksgiving with responsibilities to other families. Some are now married and bring their new husband or wife to be initiated to the Gibson/O'Farrell way of doing things. New babies arrive every year. And, unfortunately, we are a few smiling faces less as members of our family go Home before us. This is Thanksgiving. I don't know what other people do, but I know that it isn't as great as ours. I've had so many perfect memories of Thanksgiving. I hope that our children can grow up with the same wonderful traditions to look forward to every year. Thank you all for being such wonderful examples as Christians, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, children, and friends. I love you all. Happy Thanksgiving. Sascha
4: "Thanksgiving is having the whole family together at once. It's the only time of the year that it happens." - Melanie
5: "I love the flag football games - especially the "old men" versus the young men. Whenever I forget which of those teams I'm supposed to be on, my aching knees remind me without a doubt." - Lance
6: "One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories would be when Leah and I used to dress up as pilgrims and Indians. If I remember correctly, she was the Pilgrim, and I was the Indian. I wore the beaded shirt that I made in school in the first grade, and my mom braided my hair for me (Sometimes Amanda did, too), and Leah wore a black dress with a white bonnet. We apparently thought we were cute." - Alli
7: "One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories was playing behind Buddy's house. We would cook 'food' in any containers we could find and clean his back stoop and shed with any cleaning supplies we could find. These included a mop that I'm pretty sure was not meant to be used outside. As we all outgrew make-believe play, I also enjoyed hanging out with the younger crowd Thursday nights." - Natasha
9: "My favorite Thanksgiving memory is playing behind Buddy's house and acting like we were homeless and starving, but thankfully, we found some AMAZING turkey cookies to survive on!" - Valerie | "One Thanksgiving many years ago, I decided to make cookies. Earlier that year I purchased a "duck" cookie cutter and made ducks for the spring. The ducks impressed no one and the cookie cutter was destined to be stuck in the very back of a very cluttered kitchen drawer. Well, that particular Thanksgiving I pulled it out and decided to turn the ducks into turkeys. The kids didn't know any better and thought the turkeys were wonderful. I always used green icing because that's just what I had on hand. One year I substituted blue icing for green and the kids let me know right away that turkeys are supposed to be green. Thus, a tradition was born. It makes me very happy to see toddlers with a cookie in each hand. Shhhh...don't tell them they are ducks in disguise!" - Paula | Say it ain't so!
10: "My favorite Thanksgiving memory is when Granddaddy was working on the heater and it exploded and we all thought the world was coming to an end." - Kyle | "My favorite part of Thanksgiving is being with family, playing BINGO, and eating turkey cookies." -Jesse
11: "Mexican Stack...Wednesday night singing... presents... Alli and Leah as Pilgrim and Indian... boys playing together...BINGO!...dressing... turkey cookies... family...past times with Granddaddy and Buddy...It's all been great!!!" - Lynn
12: "The best part of Thanksgiving is spending time with family: Bingo, great food, talking, laughing, and having a great time. It is also great to watch everyone open gifts that our generous Granny has bought throughout the year. Also, it is fun watching Granny's surprised face when we open the gifts that she has purchased and doesn't remember buying!" - Janet
13: "Thanksgiving takes on a new meaning for us, now that our kids are scattered in different directions. It is great to see them, along with the rest of our family members." - Bryan
14: "I love getting together with family, gift-giving, family football games, playing games at the Community Center like Killer and Chickenfoot. All of these are great and will be remembered." - Jake
15: "It is great having the whole family come together in love, playing and watching football, and chilling with my cousins." - John Marc
16: "Family coming together to eat Mexican Stack on Wednesday, Wednesday night at Oak Grove church of Christ, the fabulous food, football at the Ruritan field, BINGO, the exploding furnace at the Community Center, family being together, these are all favorite memories." - John
17: "I love coming together to eat and be thankful and to do something together." - Ginny
18: "I love Mexican Stack, getting together with my family, and having them all together, and playing BINGO." - Laura
19: Love at First Bite!
21: "Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." I Cor. 13:13
23: "If you boil it down, Thanksgiving for us is simply love; love for God and love for family." - Sascha