November 25, 2010

Thanks for nothing

What is Thanksgiving?  I'll tell you what it is not.  It is not trying to convince a 1-year-old that he should be wearing a paper Indian headdress.
It is not 45 minutes EACH WAY in a taxi with tired kids, in order to get to the store on the north side of the city where one can buy fresh, American-style parsley for the Thanksgiving stuffing.
It is not the FIVE DAYS of taking care of a batch of sourdough starter in order to make sourdough bread for the stuffing.
It is not the homemade pork sausage (for the same stuffing) that started as a slab of pig flesh on a board in the open-air market.
It is not forcing the kids to wear shirts with buttons so we can wrangle them into the couch for a (not very successful) holiday family photo.
It is not even this...
Thanksgiving is the phone call from my mother-in-law who is eating turkey and mashed potatoes at the cafeteria of Little Rock Childrens' Hospital with Kerry, Philip and Eliana, while Glory gets fed something (certainly not turkey) through a feeding tube in the Intensive Care Unit. Thanksgiving is my parents eating their pumpkin pie in a quiet house because their grandkids are at their mother's today, on account of the divorce that Jack and Denise are going through.

One might think that our families don't have much to be thankful for this year.   Does my family thank G0D for vows not kept - for the tears of their grandchildren?  Does Daniel's family thank G0D for giving them a child with broken organs?  Do they thank him for the 4 1/2 months away from home, wondering which kiss planted on Glory's cheek will be her last?  Do they thank him for the first of many, many Thanksgivings without Sue Sue and her cooking tips shouted from her mauve recliner?  Do they thank him for calling Daniel and I and our kids to the other side of the world where we are spending our third Thanksgiving in a row away from them?  Most people would expect our family members to say this year, "Thanks for nothing."  No one would blame them if they did.

But not OUR families.  Our families know something that too many families don't:  this life is not all there is, and THANK G0D for that.  Kerry told me the other day that the families at LRCH who don't have this hope, act completely different than those who do.  They are absolutely desperate, she says, at any and all costs to the child, to keep their child "alive," while those who know the truth are at peace, though broken, and are not afraid to watch their children slip away into the arms of the One who created them.

No, our families are not saying, "Thanks for nothing."  They are thanking G0D for the 4 months they have had with the tough and smiling Glory Danielle, and the 65 years that Shari had with her mother by her side, and the kind nurses at Little Rock Childrens' Hospital, and the cooks who are working on Thanksgiving to give these heroic families a holiday meal.  My parents are thanking G0D for the nice girl who came with Jack to Thanksgiving dinner.  They are thanking him for blessing their daughter, Kayla, with a husband who seeks G0D with all of his heart and who is helping her to raise Bright, Zion, and Brave to do the same.  Most of all, though, our families, myself included, are thanking G0D for defeating death three days after Calvary and for giving us hope in the everlasting.

When marriage certificates are burned and children live with one toe in the grave and the long-able bodies of our mothers finally expire, we despair not - for we have a G0D that does not change and a future with him that does not have an end.

That is something to be thankful for.