Special Edition: Thanksgiving Memories

This poem was originally posted in November, 2018. The text was revised and republished one year later. The verses capture my own memories of Thanksgiving during my youth when my extended family gathered at my maternal grandmother’s house.  Blessings to all!

plate of cooked food beside cup

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Remembering annual family gatherings from years past

Enjoying special, blessed times which will last and last

Filling Grandma’s packed house with people from near and far

Seeing aunts, uncles, and cousins—as numerous as the stars

Feeling the crisp, autumn air—possibly snow on the ground

Arriving with abundant food and family love to pass around

Pitching in, many helping hands prepare the meal

Eating together on Thanksgiving is a very big deal

Catching up on life from several corners of the state

Thanking the Lord that all arrived safely on this date

Listening to exciting conversation that fills the tiny house

Disappearing from a kitchen corner, a frightened mouse!

Preparing so many favorite and delicious treats

Tasting each will make today an awesome feast

Setting up Grandma’s sizable dining room table with care

Deciding where each family member will sit, here or there

Providing for extra places to eat in the living room

Anticipating that all of us will be eating very soon

Smelling the huge turkey roasting in the oven until finally done

Carving this bird and splitting the wishbone, most delicious fun

Pleasing everyone’s taste buds, with a gathering of yummy dishes

Adding stuffing, mashed potatoes, and yams to everyone’s wishes

Saving room for a sweet symphony of delicious pies

Savoring a slice of pumpkin or many others—Oh my!

Exchanging stories, playing cards, and watching football

Realizing too soon that the time says, “Goodnight to all”

Departing for home, before everyone’s bedtime arrives

Blessing our family time, this thanksgiving feels so alive

Smiling from her large window, Grandma feels so much love

Looking forward to experiencing peace, from the Lord above

 

 

 

 

Grandparents Love Story (Episode Two)

From 1939, a scene of downtown Billings, Montana. This is the eventual home for a young couple moving to Billings about three years earlier. (courtesy of Pinterest)

Grandparents Jim and Marge experienced a love story that began in their teenage years.  Little did they know where life planned to take them in the years to come.

In 1911, Jim was born in the tiny town of Marmarth, North Dakota.  The small community of about 800 was founded as a railroad town along the Milwaukee Road line.  The transcontinental railroad traveled from Chicago, Illinois to Seattle, Washington.

When Jim was an infant, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio.  He excelled academically and athletically during his school years.

Born in 1912, Marge already lived in Ohio when Jim moved there.  Eventually their lives intersected during junior high school.  Her father was a Cleveland native while her mother was born in Belfast, Ireland.

With their love blossoming, Jim and Marge were married in 1928.  Jim pursued his career goal of becoming an engineer with his studies at the University of Akron. 

Sadly, the arrival of the Great Depression crushed Jim’s pursuit of a college degree.  With money very tight, Jim needed to pursue a different career.

In 1936, Jim, Marge, and their first-born son traveled to Billings, Montana.  Jim had been hired to work for a wholesale and produce grocer.  Working for the Gamble-Robinson Company for 40 years, Jim eventually became the general manager of its Billings office.

When World War II arrived, Jim accepted his responsibility and served with distinction in the U.S. Army until being honorably discharged at the war’s end.  Meanwhile his young family endured without him being at home. 

Marge and her three young children managed to make life as pleasant as possible during Jim’s wartime absence.  Unable to drive a car, Marge used other means for transportation.  Rationing of vital commodities during the war made for useful transactions because Marge traded her gasoline ration cards for other ones. 

Billings was growing, but it still had the feel of a smaller, close-knit community.  Neighbors helped out each other.  Church was a center of worship and fellowship for the young family as well.

When Jim returned home, the family continued to live in Billings at the same home.  As childhood sweethearts, Jim and Marge experienced quite a life journey, which took them from their former homes in Ohio to a lasting one in Montana. 

This story recalled the start of my mother’s family.  Being the middle child and only daughter (born in 1938), Martha started a family of her own with the birth of her first child in 1956 (Richard).  Eventually the family would number five sons and one daughter.  

Previously, the story of my paternal grandparents was published.  In case you missed it, here is a link:  Grandparents Love Story (Episode One).

Life’s Preciousness

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Recalling life’s preciousness

Cherishing every moment

Savoring family’s past

Dreaming of tomorrow’s hugs

 

Recounting lasting blessings

Beholding father’s wisdom

Echoing voice of knowledge

Conquering each new challenge

 

Reflecting on nature’s gifts

Catching creation’s newness

Framing winter’s white portrait

Tasting another sunrise

 

Waking to morning coffee

Embracing daily treasures

Mapping out daily shortcuts

Visiting newfound places

 

Gathering of long-time friends

Revealing closeness of all

Enjoying hours filled with joy

Discovering something new

 

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Connections

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Searching attic’s hidden treasures

Opening ancient cedar chest

Well-preserved photo album smiles

Connections with family’s quest

 

Scanning morning’s endless gray sky

Feeling forgotten and alone

Phone rings, lifting away sadness

Connections with daughter’s milestone

 

Driving endless summer backroads

Coming to destination’s gift

Rustic cabin by mountain lake

Connections waken life’s gearshift

 

Sitting near frosty window glass

Watching winter’s chilling landscape

Mail carrier drops off letter

Connections with friend’s warm escape

 

Spending lifetime in school’s classroom

Touching so many youthful lives

Cumulative cache of memories

Connections stir teacher’s archives

 

Taken in August, 2017, my classroom is ready for my “final” first day of classes at Buckeye Middle School.

James Dobson Quote

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Prescription for a happier and healthier life:  resolve to slow down your pace; learn to say no gracefully; resist the temptation to chase after more pleasure, more hobbies, and more social entanglements.

From Matthew 18:4: Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

James Dobson (born 1936) is an American psychologist and Christian author.  In 1977 his efforts started Focus on the Family where he remained actively involved until 2010.

Matshona Dhliwayo Quotes

Trees we plant today are forests we enjoy tomorrow.

Mothers are out world.  Sisters are our sky.  Daughters are out stars.  Women are our universe.

Matshona Dhliwayo is a Canadian-based author and philosopher.  Born in Zimbabwe, he shares his unique look at life throughout much of his writing.

Grandparents Love Story (Episode One)

From 1939, a scene of downtown Billings, Montana. This is the eventual home for a young couple moving to Billings about 20 years earlier. (courtesy of Pinterest)

Grandparents Herman and Annie experienced a most unusual courtship.  Little did they know where life planned to take them in the years to come.

Herman was born in 1890 in Brainerd, Minnesota.  He moved to North Dakota in 1911, then to Forsyth in eastern Montana.  In 1916, as Europe filled with the winds of war, he arrived in Billings, Montana.  He had been hired to be a mail carrier.

Annie was born in 1895 on a small farm in Harlon County, Nebraska.  Not even a blizzard dared to delay her birth.  Her early schooling was spent in a sod school house.  In 1915, her family moved to Leavenworth, Washington where she finished high school, worked in a photo shop, and was employed as a staff operator by the Great Northern Railroad.

Both of their unassuming lives intersected along the railroad tracks of the Great Northern.  Herman was traveling to Fort Lewis outside of Seattle on a troop train.  He was being trained to serve in the American army which was shipping troops to Europe during World War I. 

Along the rail line, many young ladies passed out slips of paper with their name and address.  Herman received one from Annie.  Later, he sent her a card, and thus began a courtship by correspondence. 

The two of them met briefly at Fort Lewis before Herman shipped out to France.  Upon returning safely from the war, Herman met up with Annie to be married in 1919.

They moved to Billings where Herman still found his mail carrier job waiting.  Together they raised a large family of six sons and two daughters.  Ultimately, the siblings witnessed the blessing of 32 grandchildren.

Taken from the front of the house along Jackson Street, the family home (built in 1920) as it looks today. Nearly all of the large trees have been removed. (courtesy of Pinterest)

This story recalled the start of my father’s family.  Being the youngest child (born in 1935), Jim started a family of his own with the birth of his first child in 1956 (Richard).  Eventually the family would number five sons and one daughter.  My youngest brother became the final grandchild when he was born in 1967.

Gary Smalley Quotes

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Life is relationships; the rest is just details.

If a man truly wants to communicate with his wife, he must enter her world of emotions.

Gary Smalley (1940-2016) was an American family counselor and best-selling author.  His writings focus on family and marriage from a Christian perspective.

Final Showdown

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After a couple of hours of card playing, the final stakes come down to this rivalry between two players.  Their card-playing skills have outlasted the rest of the field.

The final hand is ready to go with cards now being shuffled and dealt.  The room’s atmosphere deals out its own stillness, filled with the sharpened concentration of these two savvy card sharks.

The old man’s mind strains to stay focused, and his eyes fill with intensity.  The master has traveled down this path many times in the past.  His experience is sure to overcome his younger opponent.

The young, upstart challenges for the master’s crown.  His fearless, confident approach attempts to break through.  Will his skills and luck be enough?

Looking over their cards again and again, both competitors try to gain one last advantage before this final, dramatic hand plays out.

The room’s activity grows quiet.  The small gallery of onlookers silently waits for the night’s final outcome.

The young man understands that the next play will determine the winner.  Victory is within his reach.

Grandpa boldly asks, “Got any four’s?”

His determined grandson replies back with a smile, “Go fish!”

Summer’s Sweetness

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Life no longer singing wintertime blues

Summer’s sweetness rocks around timeless clock

Easy life, driving nature’s express lane

Planning fun times on each neighborhood block

 

Fresh-cut wood pile, next to backyard fire pit

Little granddaughter’s eyes, poised to light up

Marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate

Making sweet S’mores, summer’s perfect line-up

 

Nighttime fun never really wants to end

New memories flicker around fire’s glow

Please, please . . . let us stay for another hour

Darkening fire gracefully ends night’s show

 

On my, another blessed summer night

Dreaming later, tomorrow taking flight

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