Since it’s Thanksgiving week, I’m taking a look back at some of my most memorable ones. We celebrated two Thanksgivings on the island of St. Vincent. Thanksgiving is usually celebrated with family and food. We had both, but it looked quite different on these years than we were used to. It was only the five of us around the table, just like it had been every day for a whole bunch of days in a row. Thanksgiving, being an American holiday, obviously wasn’t celebrated in St.Vincent, so we were on our own here. But we did everything we could to make this day meaningful.
Sam and Abby made lots of printable crafts that my aunt was wonderful enough to send me. This made sure our table was decorated with place mats, colored turkeys and leaves of thankfulness. My mom even included a small plastic pumpkin decoration in one of the boxes she mailed us. And as far as food, we actually found Jenny O Frozen turkey breast cutlets at the grocery store. We paid an exorbitant price for it, and it ended up being really gross. So it wasn’t the food or the extended family that made these Thanksgivings meaningful, like all the others I’d celebrated before that. But things are special because you make them that way, so that’s what we did. The kids were excited and anticipating this meal because they understood that it represented family, expressions of gratitude and was part of our culture and tradition.
When I look at these faces in the photo, I smile. I especially love the look on Abby’s face. This reminder of how happy they were means a lot to me. How excited they were about our flimsy little Thanksgiving, and how thankful we all were. I need to remember that, because it’s easy for me to think sometimes instead about what I was missing on these days. How I spent the morning thinking of my own family back home, and pictured my daddy carving the smoked turkey with the electric knife while my Meme was making the lemon pies. How we Skyped with family on the phone that day and I put on a happy face about our Thanksgiving, but I later had a good cry by myself.
But what I want to remember is that these holidays that were bittersweet to me were much less so to my children. These smiles were real, and the joy my children had in these days was real. God was so there with us, and the gifts he gave us for obeying him are still unfolding in our lives. He was so faithful to us. We found joy in the smallest things, and we found joy in the time of celebration and being together. The days represented in this picture are the days that bonded my family of five like nothing else could have.