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Thanksgiving Memories

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

I now spend my Thanksgivings in Florida, and have done so for the past dozen or so years. I absolutely love going for a bike ride or taking a swim as I reflect upon how blessed I am. However, when I think back upon my Thanksgivings of yesterday, my heart is warmed.

Among my fondest memories would be the ritual of Thanksgiving morning. I would rise early to prepare the feast my family and I would consume later in the day. With all the other inhabitants in the house still enjoying the peace of uninterrupted slumber, I would commence preparing the turkey. Cooking has always been a way I’ve enjoyed showing and sharing my love - so on days like Thanksgiving my heart is always full.

One of my favorite tasks was removing the giblet pack and warming the contents in a pan of water. Once cooked and cooled I would summon our dog and cat (though I’ll admit our dogs never needed much summoning), to enjoy their feast early. Our canine and feline companions offer such unconditional love throughout the year, it always seemed appropriate to me that they be first to the “table” on this special day.

After the remaining ritualistic tasks were completed (chopping, dicing, stuffing, seasoning, ect) and the turkey was safely placed within the oven, I would don my hunting attire and take to the woods. With my favorite 12-gauge shotgun strategically placed over my shoulder, I would step into the crisp, outdoor chill that was common to Western Pennsylvania in late November. Some years there was snow, but normally there was just a solid frost - the type that would create a pleasing crunching sound as I plodded along. The visible mist that accompanied each exhale delighted me.

I do not recall ever shooting much of anything on these walks, but the experience filled me with inspiration, warming the entirety of my spirit. I would marvel at the beauty of God’s artistry. Each leaf and corn stock appeared infinitely beautiful as I reflected upon the abundance of the blessings I’d enjoyed. In four short days I would return to these same woods with a rifle in hand, but that would be more serious business as the passing of Thanksgiving ushered in buck season. Thanksgiving morning was... well... just because.

I remember returning home from these walks to one of the most pleasing of aromas one can enjoy - a turkey halfway through its roasting journey. Upon entering, I would spy the television with all the festivities of the parade depicted upon the screen. Likely no one would really be watching it, but an alert would be sounded if a passerby happened to see one of the famous balloons was making its way down Fifth Avenue and then all would gather.

Great memories to be sure.

Though as time passes things change. The last two years have been a struggle for many in our country and most around the world. During a time of year I once saw joy and contentment, anger now seems to be the norm. I was walking just the other day through a beautiful suburban community and encountered a sign that read No Justice. No Peace. Tragic, I reflected. Clearly there is much anger, maybe even hate, within that home, I thought. I wondered how the neighbors processed the message.

I recognize that many feel left behind and disenfranchised right now, and people’s struggles are real and valid. I couldn’t help, however, but I think that if you are enjoying the fruits of living in a beautiful safe community with amenities that some in this world will never have access to, it feels as if you must have experienced at least some justice in your life. It is far too convenient, and these days commonplace, for us to focus on what is wrong - even amid so much good. In my opinion, it is far healthier and more productive to build upon the good as we expunge the bad.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said it best, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

On this day, and every day, be thoughtful, be thankful, and search for the good in everything and everyone you encounter.

Decide to stick with love.

- Elliott

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