Wednesday Feature: Happy Thanksgiving!

This post will be a wrap for me for the week. No more work as friends and family will soon come calling and my multiple tasks of cooking the Thanksgiving dinner will take precedent.

One thing I will be thankful for, among soooo many blessings, is this little bit of work I do on this site. This site now contains over 400 articles/posts. It jumped that milestone this past Monday. Daily, readers come in from around the world, as far away as China and Singapore! I am honored and humbled.

Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday.  It falls just short of Halloween.  I love to cook so making a big meal for friends and family is a real treat for me.

Gathering for supper is an important element of my faith.  Celebrating the “table” and partaking in a common bond of fellowship, grace, and communion is as good as it gets for me.  Probably why I love the holiday so much.

I grew up in an EUB (Evangelical Church of the Brethren) tradition that as the Church merged with the Methodist Episcopal Church, my family became part of the “uniting” of Methodists.  My grandmother (mom’s side) was the matriarch of the family and thus, while we attended Methodist church, she never strayed far from her Methodist Episcopal upbring – EUB/Methodist Episcopal.  For those with just a bit of theological background, this will explain why family supper and the sharing of a meal (the Lord’s supper) and “communion” is of such high importance.  Heck, while our kids are gone now with their own lives and families, my wife and I still eat together every night, even at an informal, but still orchestrated, set table. My wife is a stickler for place settings.

As I mentioned, I am the cook for Thanksgiving.  My wife, as gifted and brilliant as she is, is not much for cooking. That is my gift, and I will pretty much do the whole meal (turkey, taters (multiple kinds), stuffing, veggies, gravy, rolls, and of course, a pie for desert)!  And, in my faith tradition, our table accommodates not just family but friends.  We have “extended” family at our holidays and it is a real joy to share our traditions and food, with them.  Leftovers of course, go along with each guest. 

Historically, Black Friday is the day for the family to go forth and source, a real Christmas tree.  Since the kids were small, we went to a tree farm wherever we were living (even in Kansas) and, cut down a live tree.  We hold the tree in water for a few weeks before we set it and decorate it.  It’s our way of letting Advent flow and our Christmas to unfold.

These days, we live in a small town in NW Illinois – Galena.  This picturesque little town is widely celebrated as one of the most beautiful and unique places to frequent for holidays and frankly, for any reason.  It is the home of Ulysses S. Grant (Civil War General, 18th President).  At one time, Galena was the largest city in Illinois.  Most of the town is on the Register of Historic Places.

Within a short drive, we have many farms to choose from for trees.  We are a bit routine but have explored different farms around the area.  Weather will be a factor in how far we travel.  Depending on schedules, the kids will join us but that is variable with their work life, etc.  I still use a handsaw to cut down the tree!

So, as I close this post on this Hump Day and Thanksgiving Eve, blessings to all who read and follow this site.  Thanks for the support and the lift that encourages me to write and offer a bit of insight on my work and the wacky world of health care, health policy, and economics.  More to come and I will have new stuff come next Monday.  Happy Hump Day and Happy Thanksgiving!

As kind of a benediction or maybe, an appetizer for tomorrow, I borrowed this little piece from a Brethren newsletter. It is called appropriately, Sunday Supper but if you read it, you’ll see why it fits perfectly for Thanksgiving.  The online reference is here:

Sunday supper

Ah, Sundays. My little-girl memories of Sunday mornings involve flowery dresses and white tights, scribbling in the bulletin while my grandfather preached, and my mother teaching me to sing the alto lines in the hymnal. But I will admit to you that my favorite part about Sundays was coming home and smelling whatever Mom had put in the crockpot or oven before we left.

The aromas were delectable, but more than the food I remember the satisfaction that came from the joy of loved ones gathered around the dinner table. Most Sundays it was just my immediate family, but it was not uncommon to pick up dinner guests during fellowship hour or at the end of worship. Sundays also regularly featured birthday and holiday celebrations with cousins and aunts and uncles, because it was a day set aside for worship, family, and good food.

These days my Sundays are a little different—I’ve long forsaken the white tights, my grandfather is retired, and now I sing the alto line on my own. However, I recently returned to this idea of preparing Sunday dinner. In a moment of clarity a few months ago I realized the brilliance of the roast: namely, if you plan to make dinner that feeds more than your family, you always will have enough to invite others to join the feast.

It’s beautiful, really. The Sunday roast creates freedom to be spontaneous, to invest in new relationships and catch up with old friends. It offers the opportunity to practice proactive hospitality. It is also practical, because a large roast requires very quick and simple preparation, yet the time it takes in the oven allows it to caramelize into slow-cooked goodness.

When I think back to the simpler times of breaking bread with loved ones after church on Sundays, I can’t help but wonder why that tradition now seems old-fashioned when it perfectly embodies what Sundays ought to be. Can that richness be regained if I get up an hour early to preheat the oven? If I prepare to invite my church family to come over for Sunday lunch? I don’t know for sure, but I am confident that my mother was on to something sacred in her meal planning, and engrained in me something that I still crave as I set my own Sunday dinner table.


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