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Inspiration: A Thanksgiving Memory…

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Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.” E.P. Powell

Inspiration: A Thanksgiving Memory... Everyone has special stories to share...

Thanksgiving season is upon us and with it will be many opportunities to gather with friends and family to enjoy a simple or extravagant meal. The original idea behind Thanksgiving was to use the occasion to express our gratitude for a bountiful harvest and share our good fortune by preparing a delicious meal and inviting loved ones over to join in the festivities. It is also a time for reflection; a time to be grateful for all the good things in our lives and offer a prayer of thanks and goodwill.

When I first arrived in the USA, I didn’t have family around and so my first Thanksgiving would have been spent in a college dorm alone with other foreign students; eating whatever the university prepared for us that weekend. Fortunately for me, one of my good college friends, Lisa G, invited me to her home for my first Thanksgiving meal. Initially, I was reluctant because I didn’t want to impose on a family event but she insisted and I’m glad I went because it was memorable.

“Best of all is it to preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving, and for every breath a song.” ~ Konrad von Gesner

Inspiration: A Thanksgiving Memory... The first Thanksgiving in America...

Lisa G lived in Brooklyn and came from a very large and extended African American family. Lisa explained to me, as we prepared to leave for the subway that morning on our way to her family home, that everyone brings a dish or two, and her Aunts compete with each other to make the tastiest dishes and desserts for the occasion. She assured me there would be multiples of everything; including the traditional turkey. There were several prepared turkeys and the abundant food didn’t disappoint.

When we arrived at her family home, Lisa’s mom and and a couple of Aunts were running around in the large kitchen, grabbing pots and pans and putting things in the oven or fridge. There was excitement in the air and a rich aroma of spices, baked goods, and turkey dominated the space. We offered to help and were sent off to set the two tables in the dining area. Then we helped set up the drinks table; alcoholic beverages, eggnog, sodas, juices and water. After that, we helped chop vegetables; collard greens, onions, peppers, and such. While we helped out in the kitchen, guests and family members streamed in bearing large dishes of food; apple pies, sweet-potato pies, macaroni and cheese, green-bean salads, red velvet cake, carrot cake, and a turkey or two. We collected the food and added them to the growing display of food on the long side table. Hope You Have a Happy Thanksgiving! More below… 🙂

“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” –Henry Ward Beecher

Inspiration: A Thanksgiving Memory... A Thanksgiving meal...

Finally, Lisa’s mom announced that her turkey was ready and it was time for everyone to gather, get seated, give thanks and then dig into the extravagant feast. Everyone sat down, and Lisa’s dad and mom said grace and then the feasting began. We had all the typical, traditional foods you find at a Thanksgiving dinner; turkey with gravy, cornbread stuffing, mashed potato, sweet potato, mac and cheese, green bean salads, cranberry sauce, and a ton of desserts. What made this dinner unique, at least for me, was the fact that we had 3-5 variations of each dish… So there was a lot of food flying around. We were served small, tasting portions of each dish and comments were passed back and forth about the merits of each dish.

We took a short one hour break after the main food was served and eaten. The dishes were cleared, the table cloths changed, and place settings for the many desserts were placed on the two tables. Vats of coffee were brewed and other cold drinks were brought up from the basement. Then the exquisite desserts were laid on the table; apple, pumpkin and pecan pies, red velvet, carrot and cream filled cakes, banana cream and key lime pies. Cookies and a variety of pastries were placed in antimacassar lined baskets and placed on each dining table. I ate so much and had such a terrific time getting to know Lisa’s family that the memory and my gratitude for their kindness remain with me till this day.

It was a generous gesture and for my first Thanksgiving, it was an abundant blessing. As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving, I invite you to consider inviting someone who might be alone, without family around, to join you. Share your good fortune and thanksgiving memories with others. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Stay Inspired! What about you? What are your thoughts? What are your memories of Thanksgiving? Do you prepare a special dish or let others do the cooking? What are you grateful for this season? Do share! Thank you. 🙂

This post was inspired by a prompt from MamaKat’s Writers Workshop: A favorite Thanksgiving memory.

Positive Motivation Tip: Hold your Thanksgiving memories close to your heart and offer a prayer of gratitude for all you hold dear.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos The First Thanksgiving in USA, via Wikipedia. Or  Thanksgiving Stories by controltheweb, Thanksgiving Dinner by Antonello Musina via Flickr

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

31 Comments leave one →
  1. 21/11/2011 10:12 pm

    As usual, Eliz, you do not disappoint.
    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story about your first Thanksgiving here…my mouth was watering half-way through the post. 🙂
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving…you add so much to my day!

  2. Savira permalink
    21/11/2011 10:50 pm

    Eliz…. your story with the images… well let’s just say I was transported there.

  3. 21/11/2011 11:28 pm

    I think this is my favourite post of yours so far. Your friend and her family showed a stranger the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

  4. 21/11/2011 11:35 pm

    I’m thankful for 8.000 US-visitors (fresh stats today) reading my blogs
    – my own country: only 3.462;

  5. 22/11/2011 3:32 am

    Happy Thanksgiving. I thought it must be along soon. We don’t have this holiday, but I know how meaningful it is to Americans, so best wishes to all.

  6. 22/11/2011 4:43 am

    Including a person who is alone…what a perfect way to celebrate our abundance. Thanks so much for your post, Eliz. I love that all the aunties were competing for the best and tastiest dish!

  7. 22/11/2011 5:41 am

    Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving memory. It made me feel warm and cozy and conjured recollections of past celebrations. Enjoy the holiday.

  8. 22/11/2011 5:56 am

    I love having orphan thanksgivings, meaning a gathering of people who can’t go home for the holidays. This year, since I am actually closer to family, I am having them all come here, but I was sure to invite one of my former students who now lives in Boston to join us.

  9. 22/11/2011 6:57 am

    A lovely memory, and a wonderful introduction to an American holiday. Out T’giving is not so much about feasting, rather giving and thanking. I was so proud of my daughters when two or three years ago I called to wish them a happy day, and they rushed me because they were headed out the door to a community kitchen to serve up food for the homeless and anyone else who didn’t have a place to go for the holiday. And all of it is about sharing–sharing what we have with those who don’t have, or those who are new to the custom, or friends whom we cherish. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving day, and every day.


  10. Bree permalink
    22/11/2011 7:26 am

    Beautiful story! Now I understand why you serve the homeless and others without a place to go for the holidays. It is these generous gestures that make a difference in our lives. You should link your other Thanksgiving post to this one.
    Have a Happy Thanksgiving too!

  11. 22/11/2011 8:10 am

    Thank you for shaing your lovely memory. Sharing our love, food and and gratitude is what makes Thanksgving so special in our family. The more is truly merrier. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year full of the feelings from the wonderful Thanksgiving you had years ago.

  12. 22/11/2011 8:45 am

    We have always invited people for Thanksgiving that would other wise sit alone. This year is different. I am going to the In-Laws house. I am hoping I will be as blessed as you were on your first Thanksgiving dinner but only time will tell. Wish me luck. I hope Karma is watching and has pity on me.

    Your friend gave you a wonderful gift. It sounds like you were a gift to her as well.

  13. 22/11/2011 9:02 am

    I wanted to stop by and wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, Elizabeth. Have a blessed holiday.

  14. 22/11/2011 10:41 am

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. 22/11/2011 1:50 pm

    I am making a chicken for Thanksgiving. All the turkeys were too big for just the two of us. I am not inviting any of our crazy neighbors over, John would kill me. Happy Thanksgiving to you Elizabeth, and to your family and readers.

  16. 22/11/2011 1:58 pm

    I am not sure why your post about your first Thanksgiving brought me nearly to tears… maybe it was because it reminded me of the big family feasts in my clan when I was growing up. It’s sad we all moved off, drifted apart and the tradition was mostly lost. The memories are clear though and part of my Thanksgiving prayer will be to remember to say thank you for those old times that mean so much to me.

  17. 22/11/2011 5:22 pm

    Thanksgiving isn’t a traditional holiday here in Jamaica but as more and more Jamaicans who lived in the US and Canada return to settle, they bring the tradition with them. What’s similar here is what we call harvest, where the first fruits and foods of the season are brought to church to be blessed.
    As I read your post, I thought of the time my friends from university decided to have Thanksgiving dinner before everyone scattered to celebrate with their families. Everyone brought something and the friend at whose place we gathered did the turkey. I think she might not have defrosted it early enough because I remember that we ate all the other foods that everyone else had brought and the bird was still in the oven. We had all congregated in her small kitchen where the conversation flowed as freely as the booze and the pot. At one point, someone remembered the turkey and she waltzed over to the oven to check on it. She picked it up and the next thing we saw was the bird on the floor flying away from her. Everyone erupted in laughter. It was the funniest thing, made even funnier because of our altered states. To this day, whenever we get together, the story of the flying turkey still comes up.

  18. 22/11/2011 11:21 pm

    happy thanksgiving!!!

  19. 23/11/2011 6:23 am

    Hello, my friend. Thank you. I will remember all this come thanksgiving.

  20. 23/11/2011 11:39 am

    You got me thinking about Thanksgivings past and how I shall spend them in the future. My aim is to invite some Coast guard recruits who live too far away from home. I think that’ll make me feel very good. Happy Thanksgiving, we all thank you for y

  21. 23/11/2011 11:39 am

    You got me thinking about Thanksgivings past and how I shall spend them in the future. My aim is to invite some Coast guard recruits who live too far away from home. I think that’ll make me feel very good. Happy Thanksgiving, we all thank you for your insightful posts.

  22. 23/11/2011 3:25 pm

    I hope my turkey looks as good as the one you have in your post!
    Thank you!

  23. 23/11/2011 4:41 pm

    What a beautiful story! And what a wonderful way to get to know this tradition!
    Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is not celebrated here in Holland. I think it’s a pity, because we don’t get to stop our hectic lives to reflect on all that we have and all that we receive.
    It seems that I might get a glimpse of this holiday this year and maybe celebrate my first Thanksgiving: American acquaintances of my husband happen to be here and they have asked me too. Only, I’m not sure if it’s for the whole thing or just for a drink and a toast before dinner: they are here as a group and I don’t want to impose…
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  24. 23/11/2011 7:35 pm

    I may not have a turkey this Thanksgiving but in a way I did through your post. Thanks for sharing your blog with us and being an amazing blogger friend. Today is that day to say our “thank you’s” to those who made a difference in our lives. Happy Thanksgiving and a blessed day to you and your family.


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