Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Being Thankful

~Sia McKye~

~Life doesn't come tied with a bow, but it's still a gift~

It’s that time of the year when we gather together as family and friends and give thanks for the blessings we have in our life. For some, that’s what this meal means and for others it’s a time when most are off work and a perfect time for family and friends to gather.

It’s the start of the winter holidays and one of the biggest shopping days of the year is the day after Thanksgiving. A ritual in some families I know. The men sit around and watch football and the women march off to the stores like Betty Rubble and Wilma Flintstone, yelling Charge!

It’s called Black Friday and the time of year merchants are enticing shoppers to the stores to begin the Christmas holiday shopping. Merchants look at it as a way of getting out of the red and show a profit for the quarter. Doesn’t always happen but they certainly want a ‘black’ Friday and profit. Retailers throughout the country heavily promote sales. Stores are often decorated for the Christmas season weeks beforehand and retailers open very early to offer door buster deals, loss leaders and other incentives to draw people to their shops. To them, Black Friday is a blessing.

Those that work Black Friday find it’s a time when insanity reigns. Long work day and hordes of rude people swarming to get to the sales items before someone else grabs it, even if it means trampling over whoever is in front of you ( as we’ve seen in the headlines the past few years). Store employees, while exhausted at the end of the day, count it a blessing they have a job, when so many don’t.

For those who love to shop, while chaotic, love the challenge and finding the deals. Many have lists and have faithfully studied the Ads and know just where they’re going and what they’re getting. They come home tired but happy they’ve gotten the main part of their holiday shopping done and saved money.
For them that is a blessing.

Is this season merely commercial? Are possessions and getting more the only part of this season?

Traditionally, in many of the early colonies in the United States, it was a time to give thanks to God for the plentiful harvest that would take the settlers through the winter. It was sharing the abundance of that harvest in a community meal. You might say it was one of the first ‘potluck’ dinners held on these shores. Everyone brought something to contribute to the feast. Understandably, it began as a religious holiday, although today it’s lost most of the religious aspects and become a secular holiday. It wasn’t until 1941 it became a Federal holiday.

Early times in this country were rough and survival was a blessing. If there was a bad harvest, it meant winter rationing of the food and worse case scenario was starvation. There were no stores or markets to save the day because the few in existence depended upon the harvest as well. But the land was rich, game plentiful. The settlers learned to farm those things that would grow well here. European methods didn’t always work, nor did the usual fare they were used to growing. They learned from the Native Americans how to grow corn, squash, and many newer vegetables. The first feasts didn’t have huge golden turkeys, candied yams, fluffy dinner rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy, or cranberries and pumpkin pie. Instead the first feasts included: duck, geese, some wild turkey, venison, fish, lobster, clams, swan, berries, dried fruit, pumpkin, squash, and many vegetables. Flour was almost non-existent, but they did have cornmeal. They also had little or no sugar, but there was wild honey, fruits and other sweet produce.

The feast was designed to draw families and the community together by sharing what they had in a community meal. They had many losses: of life, livestock, homes, and livelihood. But they gave thanks for those that did survive and the things they did have. They shared laughter and love to overcome the tragedies.

Today, for many families, this is a time to be thankful for food on the table, family around them. It’s a time of renewing family bonds, remembering those who have passed, rejoicing over the new ones born. Breaking bread together is one of the oldest rituals practiced by people.

Our family dinner is usually potluck and we coordinate with everyone on the menu and everyone brings something. The host or hostess, cooks the turkey and ham. With such a large group and the weather usually good, we tend to set up the food in Mama's garage on serving tables and carry it outside to eat at tables set up outside on the lawn.

I’m thankful for having my family and good friends around me. Coming together helps to overcome the year’s tragedies: loss of life, loss of livelihood, and some tough economic times. This year will be rough on my family, as we’ve lost our younger brother and my mother, her son. I'm thankful for the time we had with him. Good times. We come together to remind ourselves we are alive and we do have plenty to share. It’s a time to laugh over tales of the past and present, to lift a glass to those no longer with us, and share the ‘do you remember when…’?

At the core, we’re still a family. We have new ones coming in, either by marriage, or birth. We have plenty of love to go around. We focus on what we have, what remains, not on who or what we don’t have. Looking at the positives. My mother always told us that contentment comes from being thankful for what we have. Being thankful for the people we have in our lives. "Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need." She says, and I believe her, this is how we find happiness. Contentment with what we have and family and friends to share it with. When I look at it that way, I realize there is so much in my life for which to be thankful.
  • What are your blessings? What are you thankful for this year?


~Sia McKye~ said...


I've got lots of comfortable chairs, and goodies on the coffee bar. A few tidbits extra I made for the clan gathering.

Take a break from your life a moment and tell us what some of your blessings are this year?

Stephanie Julian said...

Hi Sia and Happy Thanksgiving to you.

I'm thankful that my sons and husband are healthy, that our families will spend Thanksgiving together. I'm thankful for the capricious gift of imagination that allows me to write stories others enjoy and that my husband has a job he loves.

And I'm thankful for Junior Mints, dark chocolate muses of mint.

Judi Fennell said...

Sia, a beautiful post.

I'm thankful for all that I have, everyone's health, and good friends.

And I'm always thankful that Steph has her Junior Mints. Otherwise she can be quite testy. *just kidding! :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kat Sheridan said...

Sia, such a year you've had, and my thoughts will be with you and yours. It's not been a great year for me either, having lost my job of 20 years, but I'm thankful I have enough put by to make it, and for friends and family, especially those who helped me view the job loss as a door opening into new possibilities. Blessings on you this holiday.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Steph, I have a ready supply of Junior Mints on the coffee bar. I always have chocolate here. It's a girl's best friend.

"...capricious gift of imagination..." I like that. I hope your holidays are wonderful.

~Sia McKye~ said...

This morning, I'm thankful for a good cup of coffee and sunshine. Beautiful outside even with a cold north wind. I enjoying the show, outside my office window, at the birdfeeders. Lots of singing and *gossiping* going on out there. I'm thinking a few of Judi's undercover avians have stopped in too.:-)

Angela Breidenbach said...

Wonderful post. I have to admit that I avoid Black Friday like the plague (hmm, could be an analogy in there, lol.) I shop online for most of my gift giving. Hate the chaotic crowds with a passion.

I'm thankful for so many things, but right now my new job with Full Spirit Magazine, that I've had the opportunity to serve my community through volunteerism as Mrs. Montana International, that all my kids (now grown) will be here for the holidays, and my new grandson who has recently learned to walk and loves grammie kisses :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Grammie's kisses are always special Angie.

I'm looking forward to your series of interviews.

Helen Ginger said...

I'm thankful for the health and happiness of my son, daughter and husband.

Straight From Hel

aries18 said...

Lovely post here Sia. It's so important to stop once in a while and really look at our blessings, recognize them for what they are and express our gratitude.

I'm so thankful that all my family is well, healthy and happy. I'll be spending the day with Son #2 and his family. Their family tradition is to invite the whole neighborhood into their home, everyone brings dishes or serves them out at their respective houses. Its a tumble-of-fun day filled with family, friends, pets and lots of noise and laughter. We come, eat laugh and finally escape back home to our quiet house and count our blessings anew.

Thanks for the opportunity to express my gratitude for my life.

I hope your family finds peace and joy this year Sia. I'll be thinking of you and yours tomorrow. Blessings to all.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh what a lovely tradition, Wanda! I love it.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Lovely post, Sia and a great reminder. I'm thankful for so much, mostly for my family and friends, but also for the freedom to pursue my beloved passion--writing!

Anonymous said...

I second being grateful for imagination. My 3yr old granddaughter has a rich and deep imagination. I think my muse went to live with her.

My husband and I will gather with our kids and their family. The table was large when I bought it? hmm Having them close is enough for me to be grateful for an entire year.

My thoughts and prayers are with you Sia.

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi Sia,

I'm thankful for so many things, but mostly I'm thankful that I've been able to spend a lot of time with family this year. We're going through some rough patches but we're all pulling together. Strength in numbers.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


~Sia McKye~ said...

Absolutely, Elle. It does help. Each member of our family gives something to the whole. We may fuss and fight, but then, didn't we always?

My thoughts are with your clan and your brother, in my prayers, as you gather together to give thanks for the things you have. Love, familiy, and friends.

Sheila Deeth said...

Lovely post Sia, read with coffee and chocolate, both of which I'm thankful for. And we have two of our sons home, which is great. Happy Thanksgiving.

Elle J Rossi said...

Thank you so much, Sia.

Your prayers for Bobby are invaluable and I thank you with all my heart.