Friends share their gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow.

— Melody Beattie

I often find it hard to rouse myself out of bed when it’s dark outside. Add torrential winds pelting my bedroom window with rain, and I hit the snooze button. But early morning on Thanksgiving Day I’m racing down the stairs. I turn on the propane stove and some music. I happily pull ingredients out of the fridge. The coffeemaker is placed into action and the chopping begins. I don’t even mind washing the heavy, awkward body of the turkey or reaching down into the freezing cavity to retrieve the bag of giblets.

It’s Thanksgiving! I love people milling around the house, their hugs and conversations. I love the games and puzzles. I love the smells and tastes. I love the swell of joy that fills my heart. I love the laughter and hubbub. I love seeing cars line the street and fill driveways.

Historians believe the first Thanksgiving celebration took place among Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians in 1621. Although the event marks the beginning of what we understand as “Thanksgiving,” it seems that people in Europe and Native America have a long history of organizing harvest festivals and meals of thanks, long before we became a nation.

Not everyone I love most will circle our table this year. Death and distance encroaches on the picture of Thanksgiving perfection I allow myself to privately entertain for only a minute or two. Martha Stewart would probably find our table decorations left wanting as well.

But gratitude brings me peace. Gratitude brings me joy and hope for tomorrow.

I asked a few of my friends to express what they are most thankful for this year and I share their thoughts with you today, with their permission. We all, as a collective group, wish you a blessed day with family and friends. And may you feel God’s loving touch, through the hands that carefully prepare the food and invite you to share it with them:

I would go through everything again if I knew I would have ended up where I am now. God knows if I had not had bad times, how could I appreciate the good ones? I have a wonderful life, family, husband and friends and God has truly blessed me, not that I deserve it! — Sarah

I’m so thankful for God’s outrageous love! He loves me just because He wants to, then He piles up the blessings in my life with a dump truck! —Mary

I’m so very thankful for our church community of friends that help lift each other up and remind us of Jesus’ love when we’re down. —Nancy

This year I’m thankful for Facebook, country music, surviving a land war in Asia 41 years ago, and another grand kid coming next June. —John

I am grateful that God, in His infinite wisdom, knew we as humans would need each other as we make our way through life. I have been so blessed with family and friends, how could I not know that God is behind it all? —Sue

I am thankful that my husband has survived colon cancer for four years now. May we have many more together! I am thankful for faith, family, friends and a great medical team to pull us through the tough times. —Connie

I am thankful for a small town filled with very good people ... who taught my children and caught them in their outstretched arms when they were challenged by events so beyond their control. It is the only reason they didn’t crack. —Joe

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