The smell of roasting turkey wafted through the house. It made its way through the kitchen, dining room, and finally into the living room. Gregory smiled as the delicious fragrance reached his nose. He ran his hand through his balding white hair as he adjusted his position in his armchair, groaning slightly at the aches and pains that went through his body. He looked down, once again reminded of the Vietnam War many years ago where he lost both his legs. His smiled disappeared for a moment, but quickly returned as he listened to the chattering of many children echoing throughout the house.
It was Thanksgiving Day, and the house was bustling with activity. Gregory’s three sons with their spouses and children had all arrived the day before and were busy getting everything ready. The ladies quickly began preparing the feast. The men offered to help, but were soon banished from the kitchen and told to keep themselves busy elsewhere.
Gregory looked over at the table beside him, where a picture of his wife lay. His eyes moistened slightly as he stared at it. This would be the first Thanksgiving without her. But as he listened to a burst of laughter echo throughout the house, he was reminded of those he still had.
Suddenly, a little girl of five years old came running into the room. Squealing, she hid behind Gregory’s chair.
“Hide me!” she pleaded. “Mark is trying to tickle me.”
At that moment Mark came running into the room.
“Have you seen Susan, Grandpa?”
“Perhaps,” he winked.
A giggle emanated from behind the chair. Quickly, Mark leaped behind, but Susan was quicker, darting between his legs and running out into the other room.
Deep laughter rumbled from Gregory as he watched the chase continue. Soon after, eight-year-old Steven walked over and hopped onto his lap.
“Hello Grandpa! Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Happy Thanksgiving indeed!”
“What are you thankful for today, Grandpa?”
“Oh, Steven, there are so many to count. I’m thankful for my family. And for my God. He has been so good to me. What about you?”
Steven scrunched his face up as he thought hard.
“Well, I’m thankful for the sunshine! And the birds that fly through the sky!”
“Those are very good things to be thankful for.”
“And puppies! I like puppies!”
“I do too.”
At that moment, Mark came back into the room.
“All done chasing Susan?”
“Yes,” replied Mark, panting. “She’s way too fast for me. What are you two talking about?”
“Oh, we’re just thinking about what we’re thankful for.”
“It’s your turn, Grandpa,” said Steven.
“Ok, ok. Let me think of one.” Looking outside, he spotted his three sons trying to fix the snowblower. George was flipped through the manual with an annoyed look on his face. Henry was looking down inside, and was tightening anything that looked loose. Sawyer kept pressing random buttons and would give it a kick occasionally.
“I’m thankful for my three sons who are willing to spend time fixing the snowblower, or at least are trying. What about you Mark? What are you thankful for?”
“I’m thankful for the delicious food we’re about to have. It all smells so good!”
“Let’s not forget to be thankful for those willing to spend the time making it.”
“My turn, my turn!”
“Ok, go ahead Steven.”
“I’m thankful for you, Grandpa! And Grandma, though I miss her.”
“I do too, but she’s in heaven right now, and that’s something to be thankful for too.”
“Dinner is ready!” came a call from the dining room. Squeals of delight echoed throughout the house as children came from every direction.
“Steven, would you mind getting your dad to help me out of this chair?”
Steven hopped off Gregory’s lap and ran outside, bringing the men in.
“Well, father, I think we have the snowblower fixed.” Sawyer announce as he took off his coat and stomped the snow off his boots.
“Really? That’s a big blessing. Last time I looked, it didn’t seem to be going too well.”
“Well, Henry was tightening some sort of thingamabob. George was leaning down in trying to help when I gave it a kick and the motor jumped to life. It seems to be working just fine now. Thankfully George pulled his hand out in time before it could grab and pull him in.
“Yeah, you better be thankful about that,” called George. “That was a stupid thing to do.”
“Hey, I got it working though, didn’t I?”
“No, you didn’t. I did!” argued Henry. “I had just fixed a stuck gear when you kicked it.”
“Now, now, you’re acting worse than the children,” teased Gregory. “Why don’t a couple of you help me out of this chair. It’s kinda hard without legs, you know.”
Carefully, Henry and Sawyer helped their father into the dining room and into the chair at the head of the table. Platters of food covered the table while the ladies kept bringing more in. Two large turkeys sat in the center of the able, steam still rising from the meat. Muffins, rolls, squash, corn, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and more were all somehow carefully fit onto the table. The finest china had been laid out, and sparkled in the light. Gregory watched as Mark reached for a muffin only to have his hand smacked by his mother, Cynthia.
“Watch your manners,” she said sternly.” Wait until after Grandpa prays.”
Gregory watched and as his family began to take their seats at the table. After waiting for every chair to be filled, he was about to pray when Henry rose from his seat.
“Before father prays, I just want to say something.” He turned and looked at Gregory.
“Father, I know life has been difficult for you. You lost your parents at a young age due to a car crash. During the Vietnam War, you were injured and had to have both legs amputated. Your first house burned down shortly after you married mom, and now it’s been a year since she’s been in heaven. But through it all, I’m never seen you stop smiling. I’ve never seen you get mad. You stayed close to God and continued to praise Him for His goodness. And I want to thank you for that, Father. Your faithfulness to God has made a huge impact on me and my family. Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for your dedication to your family. Thank you for serving God. And thank you, father, for not giving up when life got hard.”
Henry began clap, and the others soon joined in. Gregory’s eyes watered up as he looked at his family.
“Life hard? Ha! Why, I got about a dozen blessing right here at the table. I got piles of food in front of me. I have sons that are willing to spend Thanksgiving afternoon fixing a snowblower. I got a family that serves God. What do you mean, my life has been hard? Sure, things haven’t always gone the way that I’ve wanted, but they’ve always gone the way God has wanted them. And if we will just keep our focus on that, then we will realize how wonderful the life God has given us really is. Now how about you let me pray and then we can eat this amazing food that these wonderful cooks have made for us.”
Gregory bowed his head, and everyone followed suit.
“Dear Lord, thank you for this wonderful day. Thank you for everything you’ve given us. Sometimes life seems rough. Sometimes we wonder what is going on. But today, as we thank you for everything that you have done for us, everything else pales in comparison to your goodness. Thank you, Lord, for this food that you’ve blessed us with. Thank you for everything. Let us keep your blessings in mind us we continue our walk of life. And when we get discouraged, help us always to focus not on what has gone wrong, but what has gone right. Amen.”
Thanksgiving is one of the best days of the year. So many blessings God has given us. It’s too easy to dwell on what we don’t have or what has gone wrong. Doing so, we get depressed and discouraged. Let us remember what God has done, and have hope! God is good, and his mercy endureth to all generations!