A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingIt’s Thanksgiving. The pumpkin pie is perfectly baked. The football game is on. At last, you’re sitting at the table ready to enjoy a juicy turkey and Grandma’s infamous dressing. You hold hands, say grace, and finally take your first bite. “Huh?—this tastes a little untraditional,” you say to yourself. “This wasn’t at all what I was expecting!”

The flavor is good, but different. You realize your Aunt twice removed on your Dad’s side—who just happened to be in town from Milwaukee—made the dressing this year instead of Grandma. What was she thinking? You’re a little offended by her odd seasoning. There’s too much thyme and sage; it’s like you’re eating a spice rack. Has she served up a turkey-day travesty?

I had the strangest dream about Thanksgiving.

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Boys Chase Girls

“Do you chase girls around the playground?”

I playfully interviewed my seven year old son Liam and his friend Ecclesiastes. They looked down at the cafeteria room floor, nodded slowly, and between some messy slurps of ice cream they each mustered up a shy smile.

“Well, what do you do when you catch one?” I asked.
“We put them in jail,” they said boldly.
“Then what?” I asked.
“They stay in there forever!” Ecclesiastes exclaimed. Then, he paused and said quietly, “But sometimes they escape and chase us.”

I kept my laugh to myself, hoping not to embarrass them too much. Honestly—I must confess—I used to chase girls around the playground in elementary school too. And the few times I actually caught one of these splendid creatures, I didn’t know what to do.

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Make Beautiful Where You Are

Six years ago we planted a tree.

That fall, I looked at the hallmark website to find the suggested gift for a five year anniversary. My choice was either wood or silverware. And since Jen and I already had enough spoons, why not make a Japanese Maple from Home Depot our gift to one another?

It’s not something I do every day, planting trees. I found the perfect place, and the young sapling went into the soil of our front flower bed like a small package. We nurtured it at first, and then God took care of the rest. It seems like everything grows here in East Tennessee. Glory to God in the highest, I love living in Appalachia.

I’m in awe of these maples. They grow into a slow kind of beautiful. And they stun you with their red leaves if you let them. Today, our little maple is not much taller than when we first planted it, but we’ve learned to enjoy her quiet growth.

Slow is an important word for trees. I remember visiting 600-year-old and 200-foot-tall red woods north of San Francisco. These massive trees reminded me once again that I am not the center of it all. The Muir Woods, like slow-spoken grandfathers, made me listen like a child to the world around me.

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