Giving thanks made it all better

Published 5:32pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

By John Grayson

Pastor of Gospel Tabernacle Church of God in Christ

Wow, it’s Thanksgiving again. What a wonderful time of the year.

As a child growing up in the very small rural town in Alabama called Bashi, I can remember the excitement in the air.

This time of the year, we would have finished gathering the vegetables that were planted back in the spring and stored up for the winter months. The leaves on the trees had all but almost completely turned brown. The weather by now had changed to brisk cold, but sunny mornings as we walked our normal six miles to school. By lunchtime, it was warm, as we played outside while the cool evenings slowly slipped upon you without notice.

The day before Thanksgiving, by the time I arrived home from school, the house was filled with the aroma of delicious food. There would be rich, moist pound cakes, potato pies, banana pudding, ham from the hog we killed last year, deer meat, turkey and dressing, several different kind of vegetables and my favorite, my grandmother’s fried chicken.

Of course, being a child, I wanted to eat right then. But as usual, we had to feed the chickens, feed the hogs and cut fire wood for the fireplace in order to have heat for the next morning, and chop lots of small pieces of wood for the old wooden stove that sat in corner with only three legs. The fourth leg was made of bricks we found in the yard. It was only then I could come inside, sit around the table, and watch my grandmother, Hattie, finish cooking the Thanksgiving dinner.

I never understood why we had to eat regular, everyday food when all the good stuff was being cooked in the kitchen. Nevertheless, I had one consolation; my grandmother would always save the empty cake bowl for me to lick after she put the cakes in the stove. Oh, I was then a happy boy.

However, no one was allowed to touch the Thanksgiving dinner until Thanksgiving Day and the whole family was present at the table.

We were not a very religious family, but my grandmother would be sure we had a long Thanksgiving prayer before we would eat. I can remember we did not have many luxuries, but because we were together as a family, it didn’t matter.

We always thanked God for letting us live to see Thanksgiving; we thanked Him for the food, we thanked Him for the crops producing a good harvest and we would thank Him for having each other.

I would sometimes complain a little but as my grandmother prayed, I realized being thankful made our lives better. It seems like every time we said “thank you,” we got more, bigger and better.

Being thankful made me forget about having to live with my grandparents, being thankful made a small wood-frame house with no electricity or running water seem like a mansion, being thankful made the food on the table regardless of how little, be more than I could eat. Being thankful for just being a family made all the struggles that we had seem like nothing.

Today I thank God for living in a country where we have privileges to do and be anything we desire. I am thankful for a loving family, a wonderful church family and the greatest friends any man could have. I thank God for our governmental leaders, city, county and state leaders, regardless of their political affiliation. I am thankful that even in this struggling economy, God has blessed us beyond what we deserve.

On this Thanksgiving Day my prayer for you is from Numbers 6: 24-26; “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

God bless you and your family as you share the blessings of Thanksgiving dinner.

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