Sunday, November 30, 2008

So Very Thankful

I'm listening to the sounds of laughter coming from the bathroom as I type. James is giving the kids their bath, a time both he and they enjoy enormously, and which always provides a little "me" time.

I've been planning to get this post out all weekend, but we've truly been having such a great weekend as a family that I just haven't felt like stopping to write. We've really not done anything that exciting, just spent time together doing things that needed to get done. We put up the Christmas tree and decorations (much to Joshua's delight!), but beyond that the things we've done around the house have mostly been necessary chores. It's been relaxing to have a long weekend with no place to be, no traveling to do, and no real agenda. As part of living a greater distance from family we always have to make the decision about whether the trip is justified by the time we'd be able to spend with family, James' work schedule, etc. At least for right now in our life we've decided that Thanksgiving is a holiday that won't include a trip "back home" for us. With Thanksgiving always stranded on a Thursday and James being one of few salaried employees in this country that are required to work Black Friday it just takes too much vacation time for not much family time. So, we've kind of adopted it as a holiday just for the four of us. We're more than happy to welcome any of our long-distance family and friends that are willing to make the trip, but it's nice to not have to think about packing, fighting the traffic and adapting our travel to the kids' schedules, etc. We've done a variety of things over the years, a couple of years we celebrated with local friends, we've had the pleasure of hosting each of our families on occasion, and this year we participated in a somewhat different tradition.
With the world-class University of Wisconsin in town, Madison is home to many international students pursuing degrees, completing fellowships, or participating in visiting scholar programs as well as a number who call Madison their permanent home. While most of us born and raised in the US don't think about it, Thanksgiving is a relatively unique holiday by world standards. For many of the individuals newly arrived in Madison it is also a somewhat strange and isolating one. So for years our church has hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner at church and invited church families to participate by bringing the food, serving, cleaning up, or hosting tables for our international guests. We chose to do the latter and we really enjoyed it. We were joined by three PhD. candidates from Eastern India, none of whom had been in the US for a Thankgiving holiday before. It was interesting to explain what we do, what we eat, and why to someone who doesn't already just know what is expected. Our kids really enjoyed it as well, and Joshua is still talking about having lunch at church with our "new friends." I don't know if it will become a tradition, but it is certainly something we will consider participating in again throughout the years.

Looking at Thankgiving from a new perspective was refreshing. It is so easy to think a lot about the Turkey, the relatives, the parties, the food and spend very little time reflecting on how truly blessed we are. All we need to do is look around the world and realize how truly privleged we are to live in such comfort.

Life certainly has it's disappointments and sorrows, but from a global and historical perspective alike we are have so much! And yet, many times I get lost in what I don't have, or what could be going better, or the small discouragements of every day and completely forget to be grateful to the one who provides it all. I should be filled with gratitude for the family with whom I have been blessed, the country I call home, the food that is never lacking, the shelter from the cold, and the clothes that cover my body. I too often take for granted the blessing of laughter and hugs, the sound of little feet and equally tiny giggles that fill my days, and the constant love of my wonderful husband and the support of a great group of friends. This holiday season I hope to be more intentional in thanking God for these incredible blessings and reaching out to those around me to share some of that same joy!

I hope each of you enjoyed your weekend, wherever it took you and that you all join me in truly remembering all we have to be thankful for. :)

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

such a nice post. love the pictures. you have a beautiful family!