Thanksgiving Memories

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at our Cross-Dubya ranch. We pray your holiday is filled with family, friends, and God’s peace, love, and joy. When I think of the uniquely American Thanksgiving holiday, my mind is transported to wonderful memories of the past. Whether those are of decades ago or the blessing received an hour ago from a dear friend, we have much to be thankful for. I hope you enjoy this annual Thanksgiving devotion; and know how grateful I am for your continued encouragement, kindness, and support.

When was the first time you remember sitting down at a formal meal? We’re talking the decades old bone china with gold inlays (the stuff you have to hand wash), crystal water glasses with a gold rim, matching coffee cups, two forks, and a real napkin! I will always remember the thrill of my first real Thanksgiving; I was 14.

We have celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday in some form in America for as long as there’s been an America. Lord willing, this day of celebration and thanksgiving will continue until the day of Christ’s return. Then, there’ll be one final celebration supper. For me, Thanksgiving invokes memories of my adopting family who opened their hearts and home to me—giving me a strong foundation.

I’ll always remember with great joy and unending gratitude the day God brought me my forever family. My Dad was a mountain of a man with rough mechanic’s hands; offset by his warm, inviting smile and peaceful nature. My Mom, a small, energy-filled woman, taught me through her example to greet the world with a smile and a kind word. Among my favorite memories, is how exciting our first Thanksgiving together was.

Perhaps it was all the different pies mom had spent the previous week making, but I think more it was the lifetime example my parents gave me. That first Thanksgiving showed me what gratefulness meant. While I did not yet fully understand what being a Christian entailed, I remember my parents showing it by the way they lived their lives.

My folks often made charitable gestures to help others. My Mom and Dad showed how important caring for others was by their examples. Often, Dad would quietly pickup up a restaurant tab for a patron of our service station when he knew times were tough. He always did so in silence; asking the restaurant owner not to tell them who paid for their meal.

Other times, we repaired a vehicle on credit so someone could travel to work, paying when they could; or donating to those in need. These were the examples I saw after my adoption. I watched my mom and dad do these things even when it meant they went without something for longer; because they purchased what someone else needed. Whenever I would ask Mom why they did those things, she referred me to Colossians 3:17 (NKJV). “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Among my fondest memories of holiday meals with my family is that I can scarcely remember one where we didn’t have a guest. Sometimes it was a single patron of our service station who had no family, a widow, or one of my brother’s friends and their family; it didn’t matter. We always made them welcome in our home. A passage that always reminds me of home is Luke 14:13-14 (NKJV); “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

It seems the “welcome mat” was always out at our house. I sometimes wonder how many families open their home to friends, guests, widows and orphans, or those less fortunate at this time of year. If you’re a Christian, I wonder how you cannot. I prayerfully ask you consider in what ways you can show your faith by helping someone this year.

In what ways can you extend your joy and thanksgiving to others this holiday season? Click To Tweet

My favorite memory of that first Thanksgiving was how Mom and Dad sat the stage. They had moved to Florida less than a year earlier, and this was the first time I had ever eaten in a formal dining room. Mom put out all her fine china. We had gold-plated utensils (passed down through generations), and fine goblets with gold trim. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting.

I can picture it now; mom and dad, my little brother Paul, my brother Raymond and his girlfriend (now wife) Darlene, Charles Holland, and me. Charles was a young black man who was a customer at our family’s service station. I always chuckled at how whenever he saw my folks he would call them “Mom and Dad” and always gave my mom a big hug. Since we all called them “mom and dad” at work, I guess it just came natural. Over the years, Charles became part of our extended-family. I miss his smile.

When Thanksgiving Dinner was served, I witnessed what it truly meant to be thankful. It was then my Dad, sitting at the head of the table, asked us all to hold hands and bow our heads. What came next moves me to this day.

As we held hands, Dad began praying; giving thanks to God for all the many blessings our family had received this year. My oldest brother Richard was away at seminary with his wife; and my sister Sue was in Massachusetts with her husband. Dad thanked God for his children, their health, and how much he loved each of them. When he included my name in that list, my brother and best buddy “Paulie” gently squeezed my hand. Dad continued praising and thanking God for his wife, business, health, our guest, and on and on he went—listing all the blessings of the past year.

When he finished, Mom began. And so it went, around the table, each of us giving praise and thanks to God for His blessings. I came to learn this was a family tradition passed down by his Dad; and one I continue to this day.

I have many reasons to be thankful this year. My family suffered few losses, we remain relatively healthy, and my writing found many more acceptances than rejections. I was included in two published compilations and published many articles and devotionals.

I am ever-grateful for my wife and family, humbled that God still sees fit to use my meager talents for His glory. I rejoice knowing that He is still on His throne and I remain His dear child. Click To Tweet

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Even if you don’t celebrate this unique American holiday in your country, know my prayers for a wonderful and joyous Christmas season and New Year go with you. I will remember each of you in tomorrow’s prayer of Thanksgiving.

God’s blessings,

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48 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Memories

  1. J.D. – I want you to know that I am thankful for you. Not just for your writing- heartful and encouraging though it is, but for how you so encourage other writers like me in their journey. I am thankful the Lord has giving you good memories

  2. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal Thanksgiving memory, J. D. Your adoptive parents were the absolute best! God especially blessed you when He placed you in their hearts and home.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Ms. Diane!

    1. I could not agree more Ms. Martha. Have long said, “Anything good in me was put their by my parents.” Of course, God put His goodness into them. Thank you for your kind words ma’am; can’t wait to introduce you in heaven one day.

  3. Wishing you and Diane a most blessed Thanksgiving. I loved reading about your past Thanksgivings. I miss my mom, dad and grandmother as we always had Thanksgiving together but thankful my brother will be with us as well as 2 of my children and their families. God bless you my friend.

    1. Thank you Ms. Ann. So pleased to hear you’ll spend Thanksgiving with family this year. We’ll have a small gathering at home, but wish my brothers and sister (FL and MA) could be with. One day, we’ll all celebrate the Marriage Supper of the Lamb together, won’t we? Can’t wait for that day my precious friend.

  4. J.D. , such a beautiful and heart felt memory. I’m grateful you shared it. May we all realize some of the most lasting memories will not be simply about the food. Thank you for all the encouraging posts and also the encouragement you give to so many to keep on writing and sharing. I have been the recipient of much encouragement from you. May you and Miss Diane have a most blessed Thanksgiving!

    1. How very kind. Thank you Ms. Joanne. You made my week young lady. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving and God’s blessings ma’am.

  5. Hard to keep the eyes dry with this one, J.D. Your memories did what they were designed to do. They blended your Thanksgiving memories with mine. You added fuel to the celebration in my heart for the way God worked in each of our lives to bring us to this special day with gratitude. I love the way your dad cooperated with God in directing your life in ways that continue to honor them both. I’m late getting to this because we had to hit the road for a trip to Columbus, OH to have Thanksgiving with our girls and their families. I can’t be as verbose on the phone, so, you’re welcome. Thank you so very much for the making Thanksgiving richer. May God bless yours with more indelible examples of His love and matchless grace.

    1. Mr. Ron, I’m always humbled by your kindness and encouragement my friend. I’m often amazed at how similar our childhood’s were and how blessed we are that God chose to love us and help us through those trying early years. It is indeed in the struggles of life that He can grow us most. Am ever-grateful for all your friendship, encouragement, and inspiration my friend. I’ve long told my Ms. Diane, “When I grow up, I want to be Mr. Ron.” Prayers for safe travels, a wonderful time with the girls, and God’s blessings during your Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you sir.

  6. What a wonderful tradition your Dad and that you continue on today!

    I hope you and everyone gathered around your table have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thank you Ms. Edwina. I hope that I am able to reflect at least some of the goodness that my dad poured into me. I think the greatest compliment I ever received was before he went home to heaven he told me he was proud of me. I don’t think a son could ever ask for anything more than that. God’s blessings ma’am.

  7. You painted lovely pictures covered with love and gratitude. I am thankful our paths have crossed in our writing world and extend to heaven through our prayers. Blessings to you and Mrs Diane.

    1. How kind. I am most grateful God saw fit to allow us to share this writing journey to bring Him glory Ms. Marilyn. Praying you have lots of family gathered for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday my friend. God’s blessings.

  8. I love this story, J.D. Thank you for sharing such special family memories – I especially love your tradition of each family member praying a prayer of thanksgiving. What a powerful way to celebrate this very meaningful holiday. May your day be filled with joy as you gather with loved ones tomorrow. Blessings to you in Christ!

  9. Thanks for sharing these wonderful memories with us, J.D. I also remember those gold trimmed goblets on my grandmother’s table. They now rest in my china cabinet. More important than the setting is the love of family and friends we are blessed with. May you and Ms. Diane enjoy a special day of Thanksgiving!

    1. Absolutely Ms. Barbara. The place settings are far less important than those sitting in the places. While I can be melancholy sometimes for those who can no longer sit award our Thanksgiving table, God tempers that with the knowledge that we’ll be together again around a table, celebrating His Lamb’s marriage. 🙂 Oh, how I long for that celebration. God’s blessings and prayers for a safe journey home very soon my friends.

    1. They were indeed pretty amazing to me ma’am. As I look back upon those days, I can see how much influence they’ve had in my life. I sometimes lament the fact that I never fully embraced all their lessons when they were given, but I remind myself how they would tell me that when they were my age, they were my age (then), they didn’t fully understand either. I sometimes wonder if I ever will. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving ma’am.

  10. May all on the Cross-Dubya enjoy a blessed day remembering those previous family celebrations. When my dad was in the Navy and off the coast of Europe, he bought his mom (Grandma) a complete set of gold edged china and had it shipped home. Grandma proudly displayed them in her china cabinet until Thanksgiving each year. That china has been boxed up and sits in my parents house and not used in over 20 years, waiting for the right family gathering. It would be wonderful to see it used again.

    1. What a wonderful story to accompany the memory Mr. Ben. Praying that china gets to be used again soon sir. Mom’s (as we called it) went to my sister Sue after mama passed onto glory. The set in the photo on this post was given to my Ms. Diane upon her first wedding, and was over 50 years old when she gave it to her beautiful niece. We weren’t using it as Ms. Diane replaced Thanksgiving and CHRISTmas place settings with a holiday-themed set I gifted her with 20+ years ago, so she boxed it up and sent it home with a family member who will have lots more years to cherish and use it. Of course, it was sent off with a prayer for much laughter, joy, and love for generations to come. Happy Thanksgiving my good and faithful friend. Praying a great day filled with all those things for your family today sir.

  11. Those are truly precious memories you’ve shared with us, J.D. This started my Thanksgiving morning off right. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. May those who gather around both table and trough at the Cross-Dubya have a blessed day.

    1. Happy Thanksgiving Ms. Dottie; and thank you for thinking of us on this morn. I love that phrase “table and trough”. Am going to have to borrow that. 🙂 Have a blessed day my friend. As I’m preparing to dodge the raindrops and feed all the livestock, I’ll be sure to give them a pat and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving from their “Aunt Dottie”.

  12. Your message brought back memories of many family celebrations, now bittersweet since so many of my family have gone to be with Jesus. But the memories are precious and each of those gone now left their imprint on my life. Wishing you good health and blessings, my friend. Thank you for your ministry of faith and loved shared through your writing.

    1. So very true Ms. Katherine. I spent some part of my day Thursday thinking of those who have gone before me. Some, I am as certain as I can be, will meet me again in heaven. Some, I lament my inability to help them find Christ in their lives. I often pray that I am surprised to see some I never thought I would, but I remind myself that it is not my place to judge another’s heart. I think also of how each of them has impacted my life. What some meant for evil, God used for good, and I rejoice in knowing that with Him, I can live victoriously, as a survivor or overcomer of this world. God’s blessings ma’am, and I pray you had a most enjoyable time with the family and friends who you were able to gather with this holiday.

  13. Your post blessed my heart at the end of this Thanksgiving Day, J.D. Our Father is pleased with gratitude, and He gives us so many reasons to be grateful.

    1. Aww shucks. Thank you Ms. Jeannie. I could not agree more ma’am; our thanks for all He is does indeed please Him. I pray our lives can continue to bring Him glory in all that we do ma’am. God’s blessings.

  14. What a beautiful, intimate glimpse into the grace of God in your life, J.D.! Thank you for sharing this testimony. I’m sure it blesses all who read it. I am the parent in that situation right now, and your story will come to mind and encourage me when I’m in the thick of it. God bless you!

    1. Ms. Annie, if I know nothing else ma’am, I know that God moves in supernatural ways to bring people into our lives that impact us forever in a positive way. It’s the only way I can explain that He moved a family from Massachusetts to a sleepy little central Florida town to give me a real chance at life and to lead me to Him. I think back sometimes at all the grief that young, wayward teenage boy (one brought up in an environment of lies, hatred, pain, and deception) brought into a family that didn’t have to love him, but chose to willingly. How they must have struggled to keep me and love me through it all. How could they have known where it would end? They couldn’t, but God did! I pray that I bring them honor each day, just as I pray that your child will come to see the same and pray that same prayer, in God’s time. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving my friend, and made memories to last a lifetime.

    1. Right there with you Ms. Melissa. How you, Mr. Alan, and your precious grandchildren have blessed my life. The lessons of grace you teach help to bolster the very foundation of my faith sweet friend. Praying God continues to pour out His blessings upon your life precious lady.

  15. J.D. I love your sweet Thanksgiving memories. Especially enjoyed the scene of that formal dining room with china and holding hands for the prayer. So wonderful. Sounds like a precious scene from a movie.

  16. What a wonderful image of the way all our holidays should look as we invite others to participate. I am so thankful for your friendship. May God continue to bless you.

  17. What a beautiful post of thanks, JD! I love your description of your family and how they brought you into a circle of God’s love. What a wonderful God we serve! Thanking Him for you and your friendship. I trust you and your family had another wonderful Thanksgiving and made precious memories together. Blessings, dear brother.

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