Saturday, November 17, 2018

Time Out for Thanksgiving

by Emme Gannon @GannonEmme

In the south, we always have meat and two vegetables for supper, one green and one yellow. Potatoes don’t count. Of course, no meal would be complete without something sour. Pickled beets, peaches, or watermelon rind will do nicely. On Thanksgiving, however, our repertoire expands like our bellies. On that grand day diets are ignored along with my brother’s corny jokes and Uncle Ferd’s unpopular political views.

Memories arise of the army of relatives that would somehow squeeze around my grandmother’s dining room table to partake of the Thanksgiving meal. We knew not to touch a morsel of food until we bowed our heads, folded our hands and blessed the meal. 

Sumptuous aromas of turkey, gravy, dressing, and homemade yeast rolls wafted in harmonious circles and tantalized our taste buds as we listened to my grandmother’s prayer of thanksgiving, going all the way back to her gratitude for family members who, it seemed, settled in the original Virginia colony. After dinner we children would be held captive for a while longer while each person shared one thing they were thankful for. 

At last, dismissed from the table, we would empty the game box and play Monopoly, serenaded by adult laughter as our parents reminisced over another cup of coffee. Their laughter covered our childish hearts with a shield of peace. And we knew what thankful felt like.

When my grandmother was no longer capable of the arduous task of preparing a Thanksgiving meal for our growing gang of hungry vultures, my mother took on the honor. She cleverly divided us into two groups, where the first group served and cleaned up after the other. The one constant rule was that no one would dare contribute food that had not been made from scratch. Even so, my aunt and cousin persisted in trying to disguise their box cakes with whipped cream and crushed walnuts. After one bite, my mother knew. Not to be stymied, mother finally announced that from that year on she would cook all of the dinner. After slight objections on the part of the guilty parties, they all agreed. 

Mom thought Thanksgiving dinner improved after that. We wondered. But my mother’s idiosyncrasies were forgotten on Thanksgiving, for every lonely stranger within shouting distance had a seat at her table. After dishes were done, we’d gather in the living room, where my mother would plop into her favorite chair in an exhausted heap and nap away the evening, waking only to bid all goodbye and receive the compliments she deserved.

Life has its seasons, as the writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us. My grandmother and mother are no longer with us. My aunt and uncle join them in the glory of everyday praise and thanksgiving to our Holy Lord. We kids are now adults and have our own families, all scattered along the east coast and hardly within driving distance of one another. For some this year has brought loss and sadness that cling like the tentacles of a vine, still wrapping around our hearts, threatening to cut off our joy and our sense of being. For some of us, grief continues to strike like driving rain, falling like bullets upon our already wounded hearts. 

God understands. He knew. He provides, even now as we remember those times of love and laughter. God calls us to a life of gratitude and thanksgiving. Even though the sound of laughter may be absent from our lives this Thanksgiving. Even though we praise Him while in the throes of broken hearts and dreams. Even though there is an empty place at the table.  

 Psalm 69:30 reads, “I will praise the name of God with a song. I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”

David wrote this psalm during a difficult time. He tells God in verses 1-4 that he is weary from crying out to Him. His eyes are dim from waiting on God. And then, he praises God and magnifies the Holy One who is with him in his sorrow. 

Life may be good. Praise Him. Our dreams for our family and for our writing may or may not be going the way we planned. Praise Him. Let gratitude and thanksgiving reign over the day. For He is worthy to be praised.

A blessed Thanksgiving, dear writers.


Emme Gannon is a wife, mother, and grandmother who loves to write stories that stir the heart. Her award-winning writing has appeared in Focus on the Family magazine, several anthologies, and numerous newsletters. She just completed her first novel.


  1. Ms. Emme; I love it when another writer gives us a glimpse of why we are the way we are. I am most grateful this year for all the wonderful new writing friends who are teaching me to share my heart in safety and God's love. God's blessings ma'am; and I'm sure glad you don't call it "stuffing."

  2. Jim, thank you for always taking time to bless and encourage. Blessings as you write, boldly proclaiming the words God has placed on your heart.

  3. Beautiful, Emme! Thank you for sharing our reason for giving thanks!

  4. Love your writing, Emme. Your beautiful words remind me of lovely memories I also carry for Thanksgiving and family gone on. And I agree with your sentiments. I'm learning this season is about attitudes of gratitude regardless of my circumstances. Thank you for the wonderful reminder.

    1. Thank you so much, Karen. I love that you said, “lovely memories I also carry . . .” We do carry those memories in our hearts - memories that sustain and bless and create a thankful heart. Blessings to you and Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. Thank you, dear Marjorie. I love Thanksgiving for that very reason - a time to pause and remember. Blessings to you.

  6. Thank you for this glimpse into your family's thanksgiving traditions.

  7. I have to write a post on my weekly group blog for the day before Thanksgiving. Reading your post gave me some ideas for giving thanks and for creativity in my family.

    1. Jackie, I’m grateful my words encouraged you in your writing. That’s what we’re here for - to encourage one another. Blessings for a wonderful Thanksgiving for you and your family.

  8. Thank you so much for your comments. Many blessings to you and Happy Thanksgiving.