Story by Valerie Morikone
Mountain View Conference staff asked three members to share what Thanksgiving Day means to them. Enjoy a peek into their recollections and memories that point to the Giver of all gifts—Jesus Christ:
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. My parents taught their children to love each other and care for others. If my parents knew of a person without a family, they joined us for a huge dinner. No one was to be by themselves on Thanksgiving Day.
Shortly after I became a member of the Summersville (W.Va.) church in 1985, my extended family had dwindled down to just a few because of death and others moving on with their lives, and Thanksgiving wasn’t going to be the same. Then Drs. Mark and Susie Wantz came to work at Fairview Health. They invited all who didn’t have extended family in the area to eat with them on Thanksgiving Day. My church family filled my void.
This past Thanksgiving will always serve as one of the best demonstrations of my “family” getting together. Summersville church member Krista Olson Dale had gone to her rest on November 6. Our family didn’t want the Olson and Dale families to be overwhelmed by Krista’s loss. So, Susie moved the Thanksgiving dinner to the Olson’s home. We were thankful for each other, and we also celebrated Krista’s life.—Marcia Brown, Summersville (W.Va.) church member
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I suppose it’s because there is not a whole lot going on other than spending time together. The morning is spent preparing food and taking an abundance of photographs. My parents’ house is noisy with sounds of chatter, laughter and kids playing. We always have two tables lined up, plus seats at the counter and often a little kid’s table, because our family is so large.
We often invite friends from the area or from church. It is a joy to have others over—no matter how large our family is, there’s always room for more! I apologize to our guests for how crazy loud our house is, but it is heartwarming to hear how much they love it. I love how my family members embrace and welcome others, allowing them to be part of our family too.
I pray that we will never lose sight of how our family can be a big, warm hug to those around us—that simply by being a happy family—not a perfect one— we are being the family of God.—Jessica Manantan, Grafton (W.Va.) church member
What does Thanksgiving mean to me? What does one say in the space allotted here? Should I talk about blessed times with family and friends around a Thanksgiving table heaped with the bounties of the harvest? But what about those who have no family or friends with whom to share this special time of year? Might they experience Thanksgiving too?
Try thinking back to all the joys, little and big, that God has sent your way over the past year: the ethereal call of a warbler echoing deep in the forest; or a dark night with the crickets chirping by the back door; a gentle breeze that plays with the leaves rustling across the lawn; or a child sharing a smile that’s especially for you. I believe that all these pleasant moments are messages from God for you and me. He is telling us that He is still on His throne, that He is fully aware of our circumstances and that He loves us still. We can be thankful to Him for these gentle reminders, and we can blessHis name for all of it.
Practice being thankful in advance. Thank God for what He is going to do for you. Don’t forget that one day you can be present at the Thanksgiving of all Thanksgivings, when Jesus and the redeemed will meet around a table such as has never been spread before.
So, if your Thanksgiving experiences of the past have not been all you would have wished them to be, commit today to following the Lamb, and He will make it up to you.—Jane Lawaty, Spencer (W.Va.) church member