These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deut.6:6-9.
We gather around the table for the first holiday family night of my favorite season of the year’s rhythm, November 1st through January 1st. We pass into the season of tradition. We set out our Thankful Jar, empty for now, poised to be filled to the brim with Eucharisteo, offerings of thankfulness.
We eat breakfast burritos and banana bread. Lucy consumes the white fleshy sweetness of her apple slices, abandoning the gnawed-out red skin. But when I give her a whole apple, she only eats the skin. Why is that? I wonder as I contemplate that hollow apple skin. I run a strand of her hair through my fingers as she curls up next to me.
We tell each other the Pilgrim story. Jack speculates that the Mean King who denied his people the right to worship might be Nebuchednezzar. Or Herod. There are so many mean kings, Mommy.
Lucy scribbles on a scrap of paper and drops it in the Thankful Jar. She lifts her eyes to my face, meets my eyes, smiles shyly. I gather her, hold her to my heart.
Thanksgiving is not a day; it is a life. It is not a tradition; it is an offering.
We assign roles for the activity. Jack and Lucy want to be Pilgrims so they can sail on the Mayflower. Pilgrims get seasick on the Mayflower, you see, so they throw up over the side of the ship. Their eyes dance as they volunteer to be Pilgrims.
We act out the simplified story in silliness, the language of childhood memories. We take grainy pictures on our iPhones, because finding the good camera would mean leaving that happy room for a few minutes. We hug and act silly and laugh and eat and play.
As they kneel after safe Mayflower passage to the new world, Jack offers a prayer. Jesus, thank you that I can worship you now. I gaze at my children in posture of worship and my heart brims over. Eucharisteo. Greek for Thanksgiving. Our hearts expand and contract with the very Thanksgiving that we hope to instill.
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Cor.4:15.
What a gift that the passage of truth between generations is also a passage to deep and abiding relationship. Lord, may we walk in Thanksgiving through this season and beyond, amen.